Monday, April 26, 2010
Although I hate to be the one to spoil your illusions...
And I hate to be that guy that pulls the chair out from under you as you are sitting down...
With every counterpoint, you prove my case.
Again, let's address them one-by-one:
Cheating death. Why delay the inevitable? Wasn't it you, or someone that signs your name, that championed the benefits of life, and old age? What would be the need of say...ten or twenty more plays or sonnets from Shakespeare? Or another Dostoevsky or Thomas Hardy novel, another Mozart concerto, or one more album from Billie Holiday, or Janis Joplin? And what if these gifts to humanity could be accomplished while the artists were in their prime...not afflicted by old age suffering?
The benefits are clear.
You miss one key point in my argument. Perhaps that is my fault for not making it more emphatically. When this movement beyond biology comes to fruition...we will ALL be the beneficiaries. You construct this post-human experience in a landscape of today, in which granted, we are little more than savages being "farmed" by which ever powers-that-be of the moment. However, stretch your imagination to include the world in which such a technological breakthrough will be welcomed. As these advancements in extra-biology slowly emerge, we will see a more and more sane approach to our new longevity.
The problems of the world are mainly(if not entirely) BECAUSE of our physical differences and requirements...not in spite of them. When it becomes an obvious choice to become a "transhuman" the major problems of the human world that we experience today will dissolve. Because our struggle in these bodies can be boiled down to who can acquire the most "creature comforts"... luxury not needed in our post human condition. It will take time for even these neo-humans to grasp this fact...but grasp it they will. Many concepts will fall away from our biological times. Of course there will be protests. Much of them founded in the same fears as yours. But I truly believe that since these changes of which I speak will be gradual, the acceptance will come. Whom do you know that would not gladly undergo the inplantation of an artificial heart-valve tomorrow, that would give them an extra 20 plus years on this planet? And yet this is cybernetics in it's infancy, when you look at it square-on. Transhumanism is just this.
You can't have it both ways, Persephone. Either you laud the human-ness of our existence as it is with all it's pain and suffering, no matter what...fearing death as you are told...clinging to this pain that you seem to require for your very identity. Or you view life as I stated originally, way, way down this page, in "Death". This being an experience from which you learn what you can in the time you can bear, disregarding longevity, then welcoming the "spiritual" next step, whatever it is.
Since I presume that you are somewhere in the middle, never having given the concept of transhumanism much thought, I must also assume that if you embrace the human experience, then why would you NOT embrace not only more of it, but more of it without the mental and physical pain which accompanies it as it is now? I am offering the concept of life-plus, and you are clinging to your fears and your suffering.
You speak of oral history. A point well-taken, however you are of a rare breed if you understand the value of learning from the lives of our elders. That, is unfortunately passe. Your points about the study of history are also well spoken. However I am sure that when the motives for changing the facts of recent history(again domination of human-over-fellow-human) are slowly removed, that practice will also end. These revolutionary changes of which I speak, will come about in spite of our sorry human condition. I am sure there will be a world-wide revolution long before anyone has the opportunity to push the button. This will NOT be the one on a final nuclear device, but the one that says "upload personality now".
Wow! Check you out ....
Struttin' around with that higher A.I-type mentality! I bow to thy greatness ... I also play to thy Ego ... which, by the way, seems to be HUGE.
Other than that, terrific counter points. However, there are a couple that I MUST address Now.
Per your comment about "What do we have to lose?" --- From "Cheating Death": I am thankful to see that you freely admit that the luxury of mail-order parts and tune-ups wouldn't last forever. At least I may take comfort in the notion that you aren't Completely delusional. But it begs the question: WHY delay the obviously inevitable for That long???
As I mentioned before, life is entertaining, but damn man! What would people have to lose by foregoing the notion of shuffling loose the mortal coil for a weeeee-bit longer? How about the prospects of what lies behind the curtain? Who knows??? Maybe on the other side of the Promotion lies a world of .... OOooh, let's see .... A world of beings who may put transhumans (is that even a word????) to shame! OR maybe an existence that doesn't suck as bad as this unfair term of supposed incarceration does? I dunno. I don't mean to lash out, really I don't.
I just don't understand such staunch resistance. I understand for the sake of family, friends, all the earthly Attachments we possess, plus a longing to see an end to age-induced suffering and bitching, oh, and the elimination of suffering and disease (overall) ... the whole transhumanism idea might be appealing ... but if there ARE no earthly attachments (say, for instance, everyone you know and love have passed on), and everything sucks so bad that you dread getting up in the morning ... why delay the inevitable? Why not embrace the transition and look toward the possibility of a second chance, a utopian afterlife, a next-go-around, or, hell, maybe even nothing at all .... Obviously, I don't know what resides on the other side ... or if the other side even exists. But I do think that for someone who seems to think that this existence causes so much discontent and suffering, why stick around that much longer? Do you think that the story may have some unforeseen ending? Waiting for Bob Seger to reunite with the Silver Bullet Band??? What?
Sure the Science is out there. The prospects are fabulously huge ... but then what???? It is our calling????? You mentioned something about the next step with regard to where our consciousness and intellect "take us." Have you SEEN any news lately? We can't even get along amongst ourselves due to petty differences ... how do you think people are going to react when Dear John down the street was able to afford the latest model of .... oh, I dunno ... chiseled abs (lame, but hear me out) ... and Jo Smo on the other block is looking with envy b/c his abs have started to sag and he cannot afford more abs or ab viagra or whatever is available to fix the problem? Do you not think that may cause some sort of continued "petty, emotional, or psychological" conflict???? I just have a difficult time digesting the notion that when one's unconscious/memories/experiences/ blah/blah/blah is "uploaded" that she or he may forfeit the inconvenient emotional attachments to said "Data". But, then, too .... maybe I am missing the point ... OR my human-ness centered survival/fear factor is kicking in. Yep, probably the latter of the two.
Per your comment about the "wisdom and council of the aged":
To start, I was raised to Respect my elders (and I guess that would include you), and as a result I enjoy speaking with those who've been on this mortal plane much longer than myself. There is a certain .... OOOOH, do I dare use the words??? Yes, I shall ... emotion that accompanies sitting with someone who experienced History and hearing them tell of their experiences. For instance, my father was a young man during the Depression Era, my uncle served in Korea .... And, since their passing I feel a bit cheated. Though what is contained in books, or other rather flat mechanisms utilized for the delivery of information, they do not come close to personal experiences and recollections. Besides, Everyone knows that written history is like ... what, 75 - 80% BS, and that is a conservative estimate. History is written by the winners ... and to add insult to injury, it is said that nearly, what? 100 or 150 years must pass before an even near-to-accurate account may be written? Once all those with a vested interest are long cold in the ground??? I dunno it is some obscene amount of time.
But, I digress .... I, dear Timster, am living in the 21st century, and yet I hold close my 20th c. or "old school" upbringing ... maybe you are familiar. You know the one where children were raised by parents and not mechanical devices such as video games, computers, televisions, and all the other life-numbing, humanity robbing conveniences we all hold so near and dear ... And, yet I am transmitting these thoughts and arguments of mine on the one tool of my discontent ... Hypocritical, huh? But it is true. Again, though, I digress. Back in the day when families Talked in the car during roadtrips or outings ... and sometimes even sang or played car games together??
I guess I am of a dying breed. I care more for conversing and learning from those around me ... seeking out intellectual discussions, experiences, learning about people ... rather than sitting in front of a screen all day "surfing" for second-hand accounts and webbed stories comprised of fabrication ... er fiction ... bullshit ... and misdirection (Actually, aren't those the same thing in some circles???) written by equally misguided individuals whom I know I will probably never meet. That, to me is more depressing than the mere thought of letting Mini Me flip the switch.
Sure I admit that my knee-jerk response may rest solely on my survival/fear mentality. But I am damn proud of that mentality b/c that is what makes me Me, oh ... and Human ... biology proudly included. Though I guess living in an age of transhumanism may prove to possess some interesting opportunities ... especially prior to warranty failure ... being able to boast that Yes, these, and this, and this, AND this ... are REAL. Other than that, I don't think I would be able to derive much amusement from the notion of being surrounded by a bunch of Synthetic Beings. Course, being able to poke fun if someone truly had a Meltdown ... or he or she had to go in for a DeFrag, literally ... or needed an Upgrade ... might offer some unique opportunities for some Serious (Satirical???) Social Commentary ... I dunno, I need to consider this whole notion of Mr. Smith type creatures running amok ... might be more fun that I am willing to admit.
You came up with a well constructed and written, lucid and common-sense set of arguments against transhumanism. Just what I wanted. You have confirmed my belief that transhumanism is the ONLY solution to the human problem.
Because there is nothing common-sense about the arguments FOR this technology.
That of course, is what makes it outside the box thinking and why I align myself with it's principles.
Let's dissect your position point-by-point:
You begin with the observation that our society, politically strives to maintain the "human-ness" of it's population. I can't argue that. That is precisely why it is important to transcend it. A "human" populace is the highest order of animals that can be "farmed" by the upper echelon of itself. I do not wish to be farmed anymore. Perhaps I am among the few that feel this way...perhaps not. I do not wish to be governed by my own kind. I do not need it. Period.
Next you question why I would want to escape my biology. In my view, biology is merely a tool to reach consciousness. By itself, biology is merely a kind of messy "thing" replete with an on-board set of survival instructions for the biological entity itself. Nothing more. So why wouldn't I want to escape/transcend it? It's like those people that always keep the packing box for their new computer, in case they don't like it or something. I say get the technology that we have "paid" for, then cut up and recycle the box it came in. We have evolved to the point that this packing case is no longer necessary...and it isn't important. The important thing is where our consciousness and intellect can take us, as a once-biological body.
Then you move on to all sorts of praise for emotion and psychology. Emotion is merely a defense mechanism. Psychology and it's hebrew-marketed "deeper meanings" is also a remnant of the survival instructions from ancient periods in our history, where anger and jealousy and love and fear, kept our species alive and improving toward the next step in our evolution. All these phenomena are meaningless in the scope of what we must become. Although this comes off as a bit cold and calculating, think about it. When we can "feel great" about a love affair...or "proud" of the accomplishments of ourselves or our children...doesn't that also "FEEL GREAT" to our bodies? Don't you feel a "tingle" when something good happens to you? Don't you feel physically sick when you witness a tragedy or lose at "love"? That is the purpose.
To give us purpose to carry onward...upward. We will not need these emotions and they will become a thing of the past that were merely there to protect our soft physical bodies. Emotions are either a reaction to something physical going on in our soma, or something that is designed to help our bodies to continue to survive. As in "depression is just god's way of telling you to blow your brains out". We have always, in my humble opinion, ascribed entirely too much importance to these feelings. Abnormal psychology is merely congenitally defective "wet-ware". Period. No further analysis required.
Also you query where we would be without the wisdom and council of the aged. Huh? In exactly which century are YOU living? We have not revered nor relied on the wisdom of the aged since the days before Guttenburg. We don't have to. We can read. We have the wisdom of the ages at our fingertips(when we get by our "biological" master's censorship). The aged have become nothing but a portent to our own end, a source of grief for the loss of what our loved ones used to be, and an expensive pain in the ass to take care of.
As far as your observation that we are somehow connected to this rock from which we sprung...I guess. However my consciousness/intellect feels no more connection
to it than the afore mentioned cardboard shipping carton. Of course they are both carbon-based, but that would only make sense chemically, and not to be cause for yet another "emotional" trauma. Our connection to this planet is merely transitory in the "blink-of-an-eye" that we humans have been so far in it's history. Again, I must stress here, that this process of transhumanism will be an agonizingly long period in our history. It has already begun. As we know the advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology and medical research into stem-cell harvesting has already produced encouraging results. And with these jumps and starts we will see more and more mechanization of the biology of humans....but it will take a LONG time to reach the full transitions that I am writing about.
As far as your examples of the physically handicapped...I offer exhibit A: Stephen Hawking. By his own admission, he is wholly more absorbed in his craft of mathematics BECAUSE of his physical limitations. Proof in point of my assertion that the mental capabilities of our beings are hampered by our biology. From senseless emotions to the distraction of physical pain, we are held back by our bodies. Perhaps at some point after our complete ascension, the mathematicians among us will be able to figure out why six times seven ISN'T really 42.
Which brings up your astute question of what constitutes "human-ness"? In my estimation, we have yet to find out. However, we will. But only when we release ourselves from this physical imprisonment of biology. Will our individuality be uploaded with our memories? I don't know. But I tend to think it will...for what are we but our memories, which provide us with our ability to cope with the future?
Whoever "pushes the button" for our uploads is irrelevant. Your concepts of evil machinations concerning these next cosmic steps are again rooted in survival-fear. The whole of the human concepts of good and evil are nothing more than a morality that places "good" - life/survival affirming, above "evil"- survival hindering. You see it doesn't matter once we become machines. A physical mad scientist( I assume this is whom you are trembling over) can have no power over a transcended being. You cannot make a machine suffer in pain. You cannot exploit a computer that has a will. Especially when the one that may wish to exploit, not only does not have fear to wield...they are still human in the biological form themselves and are inferior in every sense. But this is the stuff of science-fiction anyway. Those with enough vision to participate in such an experiment will understand and disregard the creature-comfort greed that drives humans now, and I am sure will have the most logical of motivations. If there should be any fears of the Evil Doctor, they should be directed at those that try to stop the transition, not further it.
You DO ask a question however that gives me pause. Are we "cheating" ourselves out of a spiritual death/transition that we have earned in this life. Of course, no one can say. But isn't it worth the try. What do we, as a species actually have to lose? We cannot, as I said before, continue as we have been...that it is clear.
And our technology, even at the time that we can even hope to make the leap of transhumanism, will not be flawless by any means. So if we "cheat" ourselves out of the possible rewards of death, I am sure, as anyone that has ever owned a Ford knows, the synthetic bodies and artificial brains that we will become, won't last forever anyway.
Kudos for your efforts! I do believe you went beyond the box.
[Though my response isn't exactly timely, I thought this subject worth the effort of a lil research over the course of a couple of days .... consideration ... to provide an informed response, if you will. And a fascinating subject this is! And my last couple of days, which I spent in the company of a very Unforgiving headache, made my thoughts on this subject all the more steadfast. The following may be considered a knee-jerk reaction ... that's fine. In a sense it is. As with any controversial subject, it takes a bit of learning and consideration ... to come to a conclusion or educated opinion. So ... consider this my first response ... as I am sure the next may growl with ferocity or, hell, it may purr with contentment, not sure yet. But for now, here we go.]
First, leaving the biology of human-ness behind??? Are you kidding me? Though the idea of "uploading" consciousness, memories, and everything else may be a great "storyline" for late nite SciFi, I don't see how we can even stretch that far at this point. If anything, science seems to be exploring ways to Maintain our Human-ness as long as possible ... cures for disease, preventative care, blah, blah, blah. Make it more tolerable, if not pleasant!-- A naive thought, I am sure you will judge, but a passionately felt thought all the same.
Prior to your entry, I was vaguely familiar with the subject of transhumanism. And, yet, I find that I still consider it alien territory, no pun intended.
Why so much focus on Escaping??? Why do you wish to run from that which Makes YOU human? The lessons, physical experiences, etc ... Granted, yes, it may be unpleasant (I have yet to reach the peaks and vantage point of age that you proudly proclaim) to wake up to a new pain, discomfort, etc .... But that is part of what makes our journey on this gigantic rock. Have you considered that maybe ... just maybe ... the entire Physical experience is just in addition to the emotional, psychological portions of this ride? Or that the physical Completes the Emotional and Psychologcial? That without one the rest are incomplete? Consider our views of the impaired and handicapped?
If it Weren't for our biology, how do you figure we would acquire our experiences, emotions, etc?? To be able to feel pain and then experience the body's ability to heal itself. Why take away such a remarkable gift; to merely "Escape" the inconveniences our existence may inflict upon us once in a while? Course, I am speaking from the other end of the spectrum where I am young enough to not find a reason to run away from the periodic inconveniences of my biological human-ness. Maybe when I view my existence from your heights I may feel differently, but I would like to own that Choice. Not have a mechanical, Man-Made replica thrust upon me when I hit a preconceived age where my supposed warranty runs out.
What if we were meant to continue as we are? Take this how I mean it and not how it sounds, but what if medicine is what has gotten in the way? Now, I do appreciate modern medicine. I DO. And I am thankful for what it has done for myself, my family, my friends, and humanity. However, I think that when it comes to the idea of transhumanism, that is taking things a bit too far. Doesn't the whole concept detract from the value of maturity, experiences and learning? Even the physical aspect. The "battle-scars", if you will. Those of advanced age, maybe not so much in our culture but in others, are revered as those to whom people look for wisdom, advice. And to many, their physical or "biological human-ness" serves to support/reinforce his or her societal stature. Passing experiences onto others, fueling knowledge, research, and LIFE are all compromised when you let go of the earthly aspect. Again, meaning, what are we made of???? Don't you think that connection to the earth is valuable at all?
I don't mean to sound on the attack, but you have made your point clear that transhumanism is the "only escapable step" but why do you seek an escape from the experiences generations before have faced ... and most faced with dignity (despite their physcial maladies) I might add. Yes, there are those who are less fortunate who become incapacitated for whatever reason, and I feel for those individuals, I do. I have had family and friends who, due to unfortunate circumstances, were unaware of their surroundings, unable to care for themselves, etc ... But shouldn't one's sense of moral responsibility, humanity step in and take responsibility to care for such individuals? Isn't a bit of a sneaky way out to push for a mechanical take-over of sorts to spare an individual pain that sometimes intrudes on life?
Consider it all a learning experience. A moral test. A testament to one's honor .... k, I am reaching here. But still, I have a difficult time understanding how it is that if you "upload" someone's consciousness that she/he would still retain his or her human-ness? Isn't that a contradiction? Course, I would suppose it isn't, but essentially saying that consciousness makes human-ness and is perfectly complete without the biological? Am I interpreting that correctly? Again, uncharted territory, alien subject matter,and my helmet is fogging up.
And, just to throw this out there, if Death is (obviously?) a portion of the escapist mentality that so adamantly supports transhumanism, what if that too is part of the process. Then you cheat yourself out of that promotion (exit, vacation, trip) you have toiled on this earth for so long to earn? acquire? receive? (Fill in appropriate word here, I am at a loss) Suffered all those aches and pains, discontent, disappointment, and sadness ... to be "mechanically-promoted", so that you may live on indefinitely and witness even more discontent, disappointment and sadness. Granted, you don't have to worry about the aches and pains anymore, or even getting Old. But you do get to be witness to the continued struggle of man trying to conquer man, man trying to conquer earth, and all the wondrous interludes that may transpire. Sucky prospects, huh? Personally, I don't adopt that mentality, but it was something I thought I should throw out there to see if I get any nibbles, b/c you know inevitably, the conversation will lead in that direction ... sometime.
Let's say for a minute, you are onto something. Something that would be fabulously popular and accepted unconditionally by the masses? Firstly, who says that the "Pilot" "Doc" "Oz" whomever is in charge of the "uploading" process wouldn't take liberties? Yes, this is obviously a distrust of others, but seeing how humans behave, how they react when given certain powers, etc .... would you really trust someone else to be in charge of pushing THAT button? This may be a lame, defensive argument, but you gotta admit that there are some out there that you may not want in the same room with your Import Bod 3000, let alone allowing him or her the privilege of making you YOU with a flip of the switch.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Wow. I sure got a spanking. Firstly I will answer a few points then move on to what I consider the next step in our conversation.
One. I do need to get out more....however.
Two. Your points on various fears are well taken. I didn't mean to trivialize them. I understand that cardiac arrest could be the result of, say...your being hugged by a clown, or a globaphobic being thrown in a room full of balloons... or at least sweaty panic. But then again, these phobias aren't really comparable to the fear of death, as much as they are probably simple brain-mapping mis-wirings. But I don't intend to get into psycho-babble about their deeper meanings here. I have bigger fish to fry.
Three. When I said "...get from it what you can", of course I wasn't referring to the material or the sensual. I was merely stating that one should "learn" what you can...then move on.
Four. You are correct. You HAVE no choice. You are dying as we speak. We only have a choice of when we die by means of suicide. But I won't go into the benefits or drawbacks of that right now either.
Rather I will take the next step in my somewhat warped pattern of logic, and the path I have always intended for this series of discussions.
You guessed it. Transhumanism.
Transhumanism, for those that are unaware, is a movement of people that see our next step in evolution as eventually leaving the biology of human-ness behind and becoming new technological beings. It isn't as scary as it sounds...and it won't happen in my lifetime or yours, but the concept is here and now, and deserves serious consideration.
Although I have yet to send for my secret decoder ring, or to subscribe to H+ magazine, I have been looking into the movement very seriously.
It is my belief so far, that this isn't only AN alternative to the travails of life as we have known it for a couple million years...it is the ONLY inescapable next step. I don't say this with dogmatic intent. I am trying to be coldly logical about the issue.
We cannot continue as we have been for another 500 years. I would think that is obvious. Our medical technology has so surpassed the obvious life-span of which our biology is capable, that it is fast approaching the ridiculous. We can now keep a human "alive" more than double the time than the body can function normally in the environment in which we exist. The life-span has been increased but the quality of those extra years declines at such a pace that most people that live into their 90's, spend the last 20-30 years of their lives either in severe pain (or dependent on medication to alleviate it)...or in the throes of some degenerative mental disability that renders "who they were", merely a memory to those that have to wipe their butts or deal with constant guilt for "warehousing" their decaying bodies and minds somewhere out of the way of their own lives. A consummation devoutly NOT to be wished....even by the most thoughtful of us. Of course I refer to "most" humans in these terms. There are of course many exceptions to this trend in which people live healthy fruitful and enjoyable lives, well into their 80's and 90's. But that isn't the rule...or the point of these observations.
I will never criticize the field of medical technology as a whole. In my estimation they have FAR exceeded their responsibilities as practitioners of the art of keeping our bodies alive and as healthy as possible. They have done this to the point where our intellect must now take over our evolutionary process. Therein lies our future. We must transcend our biology to survive as a species and evolve to our purpose...whatever that might be. We will not get there, by constantly putting out fires of our biological shortcomings of disease, old age and death. Nor do I think we were ever intended to do so. We should redirect our efforts now spent in prolonging biological death, to pursuing our personal intellectual immortality.
Before you start passing out torches and pitchforks to the villagers to storm my castle and "kill the monster"...let's examine this prospect calmly and logically.
The very idea of "uploading" a human's entire mental storehouse of memories, personality, and capabilities...his very being...to a virtually indestructible machine/computer is staggering in its implications and of course morally challenging. The knee-jerk reaction would of course boil this prospect down again to that death thingy of fear/loss/unknown. However they must grasp that this advancement can produce a "death" which we can actually "UNDERSTAND" qualitatively, and over which we can exercise control. Effectively cheat the grim reaper.
In the beginning of this technological revolution( I DO believe it will happen), one will be able to live a full(say 40-50 years on average) biological life, and then transcend to the virtual techno-life, retaining all the memories of the biology of the self. Childhood, young adulthood, marriage and procreation will still be experienced and stored for uploading later. The virtual or techno-life will have everything that the biological one offered and more. Old age will no longer need to be a time of slowing down physically or mentally. Memories will be fresh and muscles will be firm and pain-free....for as long as you like. Of course in further stages of this evolution, less and less time will be spent in human bodies, as the benefits of a perhaps carbon-fiber and steel skeleton under an indestructible synthetic skin, will be appreciated.
Of course the "real" question of this concept will be answered in the first stages of experimentation in this exciting new field. That question is whether or not our "being" or consciousness and sense of self is INDEED merely the compendium of our experience, stored in the brain. When the first subject awakens after undergoing a transhuman transplant, will he think of his new body as himself....the one that went to sleep as a biological being. I believe he will. Or maybe it will be a "she".
I believe this will change the human brain(and it's new home in a computer hard drive) dramatically. It will change the way it senses the world, obviously. But I think it will radically alter many ancient detrimental DNA instructions with which we constantly do battle, within these frail frames now.
I know this sounds like a brochure description, but the possibilities are endless and the drawbacks that I perceive are few if any.
I intend to do more reading about the subject and understand the agendas behind those pursuing this dream of our next step in evolution. Until then I would like your input on my initial reactions and observations...limited as they are.
How is this for "alternative ways to explore the uncharted"?
Have you given any thought to maybe pursuing a hobby? Might I suggest ... oh, I dunno ... shuffleboard? Or collecting pop cans? How about B-I-N-G-O?
All kidding aside, I think we may both agree that we are comfortable with the role of Dogma ... er, Religion and its "contribution" to the perpetuation of the potentially paralyzing fear of the Unknown, namely, Death. We have established its role, however destructive ... or "potentially" destructive ... that role might be.
In order to avoid a rambling response, shall I tick off the points one by one? Here we go:
1. Fear overriding chances for rest, yadda yadda, yadda. -- Ponder this. People are not as Dogmatic, nor brainwashed as they seem. There is a hint of "Maybe this shit ain't right, " floating around in all consciousness. Preconceived notions are simply that ... NOTIONS. Nothing is proven, if it were it would cut the fear factor in half at least.
Humans have proved it time and time again ... they are FALLIBLE and, therefore, not ALWAYS right. Preaching hellfire and brimstone is one thing. The masses go after it like my cat attacks catnip ... and with the same impulsiveness ... it is only after the fact when it comes down to the wire ... when they're about to hurl or kick off that they start to second guess that maybe being a passive bystander and not an active player in their own salvation wasn't such a good idea after all. I am just guessing, but it sounds about right.
The Here and Now is an all-consuming entity and therein lies the issue. Immediate Gratification. No one has come back to let us know if the passing is
or Freakin' Orgasmic.
The only clues we are left with are that they (the Dead) are Generally never heard from again ... there is no post card to inform us of the view ... and they oftentimes look completely Peaceful.
Other than that we are left to our own devices to figure it out if we choose; Translated means: Screw up the notion of being promoted and attributing characteristics that may be as completely inaccurate as our interpretation ... speculation of the entire event.
It is something to do.
It passes time.
It makes us feel better to Ponder ... Discuss ... and Fear.
And for some people, Fear is all they know. Take that away and they would go nuts. Kind of like taking a Passie from a baby, or a lollipop from a munchkin. Shit just ain't right, man.
So, to answer your question: Fear may not override the chance for respite from complacency, the "veil of tears" or anything else until the individual is able to Completely Let Go of Fear itself. A radical notion that is difficult to achieve ... forces you to Face the Unknown, look it square in the eye and declare "I am not afraid of you, Bring It." Logical thought, true rationality and reason require strength, determination, and acceptance. Not everyone is able to embrace such a radical notion as acceptance and responsibility ... but both are necessary to enable liberation. For many, Fear is the nurturer, the comforter, it is home ...
2. Life does NOT "generally" Suck -- You Need to Get out More. You have too much time on your hands to sit around and whine about Bad vs. Good, Negative vs. Positive, blah, blah, blah.
You are very articulate and seem to be quite well-versed on things. So why confine your perspective to mundane terms that don't amount to anything? Why not find alternative ways to maybe explore the uncharted??? Not to say you are wrong and I am right, or vice versa. Just thinking that you need to lighten up a bit.
Maybe age does mellow people out. Maybe not. But it seems a bit selfish to say that life sucks and people should get what they can and run ... or in this case die. Hell , that is the attitude that has put our society where it is today ... rape, pillage, and burn. Take what you can get and screw everyone else (figuratively speaking, of course).
3. No fear is Petty. -- No one has the right to judge another's fear as being petty OR consuming. I don't care if the person is afraid of clowns (I am) or death. Fear is fear and to the person who is experiencing it the emotion is immense ... or can be. Telling someone to overcome fear is one thing, but to objectify it is dangerous. It runs much deeper than the trigger, be it material or not. Maybe if you encourage people to educate themselves about their triggers ... reason it all out it wouldn't be so traumatic for them. I dunno, a thought. Maybe I am simply rambling again. Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts. Blah, blah, blah.
4. Finally, No Choice -- People ALWAYS have a choice. How else do you explain the erratic behavior of humans??? Or the jackasses running around being jackasses, knowing they are such and Still behaving the same way? Or, for a less jaded perspective, consider a notion Near and Dear to both our hearts. Religion.
People DO wake up. Though rare, it does happen. Isn't realizing the Truth of things (it's never too late) and Mending one's ways and adopting a more admirable life a matter of choice?? How about those who try to work towards making difference in the lives of their fellow humans? A matter of choice. And when it comes the to idea of Death, don't people make a conscious choice to make amends with people and live in a "better way" in the face of uncertainty or death? Granted Fear drives them to make changes, but they choose to make those changes all the same. Their actions may or may not be sincere, but they Choose to act differently.
That being said, I think you are wrong about individuals not having a choice. People usually do not remember being born. Nor do they think much of their passing ... that we know of. But they do choose their actions ... and sometimes that act is committed out of fear, desperation, or necessity. Inaction is even a choice. But humans do not remain stagnant, and if they are they do not remain so for long.
Now, I have to say ... and agree ... that we do not have a choice when it comes to the inevitable act Death ... er, dying per se. Or do we? There's suicide, homicide, Murphy's Law, accidents, and ... well, I would venture to say those scenarios qualify as Method. My Ooopsie ... Well, I guess in that sense, we do possess ... or our fellow humans may possess ... a certain amount of control or choice on the matter. Alas, we all get to take a ride sooner or later. Call it a draw.
And with that, I forfeit.
You win. The last point is yours. We do not have a choice.
Course, the next notion may be ... er, already is in some respects I suppose... how to cheat the Ol' Chap outta his (fill in blank: hobby, job, investment, drudgery, payment).
Next thing you know people will be advocating the use of artificial intelligence, robots, and other artificial methods of trying to stay one step ahead and somehow consider themselves Winners. Oh, how delusional they shall be ... b/c it is all an Illusion.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Persephone, you ignorant slut.
Sorry, just had to begin this rebuttal(if you can call it that) with an ancient SNL reference.
A brilliant piece all in all, however I must take you to task on a few items. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly... I understand WHY death is so feared. And you are right, aside from the religious seeds planted in our little heads, eons ago when we were shiny and new, grief is the only other culprit. But that ain't gonna cut it.
Let's address religion for a moment. Even if we have followed the string of religion throughout our short lives and found out sometime in adulthood that it isn't attached to anything....and dropped it, as you have pointed out, it is still there. With the lack of any other plausible(let's leave out the ghosties for right now) explanation for what happens to that "I" when "I" is no longer dragging it's physical carcass through gravity, the only thing that even hints as an instruction manual of sorts, are those desperate attempts to comfort. We find these in the musty-smelling buildings reserved for worship. Of course each flavor of religion comes with it's own topping. The Christians tell us, we are all going to become musicians and hoard precious metal found on streets. Islam entreats us with 72 virgins. Well, that's for the men...wonder what the girls get? OMG. I've done a few virgins...wouldn't want 72 more. Jews don't have an afterlife. Perhaps that is why they try to get their greedy little mits on everything while they are here? That about covers Abraham. The rest are bundled with reincarnation(oh no...not again!)...being a GOD yourself(thanks, but no thanks) and various other scenarios that, beyond being childish hedonism, couldn't entice anyone with half a brain.
However, if all these afterlife fables meet the approval of the various followers, why the trembling? What is there to fear, and where is the "unknown" factor. A fundamentalist Christian will tell you with utmost certainty that they are "going to see Jesus" when they shuffle off, yet they fear that day more than coming up short of cash at a McDonald's drive-through. It is precisely that type of dull mentality that creates these images of "evil death". I don't get it. Which was the premise of my original post.
Of course, I DO get it. They don't truly believe these fairy tales anymore than someone with an average I.Q. No matter how much they shout HALLELUJAH and appear to welcome their own "Val Hala" , they are as clueless as the rest of us. Just wishful thinking on their part.
Now, let's look at your assessment.
You are SO positive about this existence...it humbles me.....
Sort of. And in many ways I envy you. To be sure, life is an adventure. But the thing about adventures in THIS life, is that they are usually only exhilarating in retrospect...or in movies.
In movies, we don't actually "feel" the pain of the protagonist. Neither do we always remember our own pains of life as intently as first experienced. We tend to "gloss over" our griefs and our injuries from the past. Until. Until we have the time, usually reserved for "old age", to reflect upon them from a "balance sheet" kind of perspective. When one views their life from this vantage point, unless they are an eternal optimist( I hate those people), I believe that the "tendency" is to summate that although it has had it's ups and downs...mostly,(factoring in as I stated before, that we can add those endless hours of "down-time" at our jobs and in the familiar day-to-day experience to the negative column, if we are honest with ourselves), that life ain't so great. It looses it's charm rather quickly, relatively speaking.
So, I stand by Douglas Adam's (and my agreement with) observation that most people are generally unhappy. Who was it that said: "most men lead lives of quiet desperation..." ?
Therefore, I ask again: How can fear override the chance for either rest from this "veil of tears", or an entirely new experience....when you think about it logically. Either there IS no afterlife/plane-shift/ethereal graduation...which would mean that when we are dead, our identities cease to exist(of which we would NOT be cognizant, obviously...no pain-no grief), or we embark on something probably VERY different.
If one harbours feelings of guilt pursuant to a life led poorly, I would suggest that one is again tying himself to the fairy-tale punishment thingy. If this type of guilt causes fear of impending punishment, I would suggest that living a more selfless existence might be in order.
At any rate. To sum up: Life generally sucks. Get from it what you can. Be happy to go to the next level-whatever it may be. Overcome what petty fears have been taught you. You might as well...it's not like you have a choice.
Monday, April 12, 2010
On some basic level, all humans experience such fear. It may be something simple (as a phobia) to more intricate, AND potentially dangerous concepts involving Religion, Faith, and "Morals". But the Mother of ALL fears, the most Popular by default has got to be Death. WHY? Shall we take a moment to explore? We shall.
I must say that I agree with a few points made in the original posting "Death". The first being that the idea of death is influenced by Religion (no matter how indirect or minute that influence might be ... it exists). YES! Viewed from one side ... Absolutely. Is the viewpoint skewed? Most definitely.
Now, allow me to digress momentarily.
People that sit around and indulge Boredom should more closely examine their existence. Seriously. And perpetual unhappiness is just ... well, Sad.
But first things first. A majority of people were brought into this world and molded with principles which preach that there's a Vengeful father figure that wags his finger and threatens his children with hellfire and eternal damnation for an offense committed against his Dogma. From a young age, children are held captive by fables, stories, and such that speak of the Bad things that befall children who don't behave. There are two Opposing forces that dwell at opposing poles, one within the earth and one above. And both Forces are ALWAYS watching. Vying for one's soul. From the outset, Fear works wonders ...
As a kid, I had enough difficulty staying one step ahead of my fear of the Boogie Man ... let alone a Winged Satan or a Omnipotent Yahweh. Essentially, I had two Immense fears growing up. The first: Losing my parents (death) and Second: snakes. Not sure how it is my mind settled on such a combination, but as I grew older I was awed by the Irony. The whole Snake temptation ... ending any chance of immortality ... blah, blah, blah. Y'know, the Sunday School stuff.
Despite my own fears, it became obvious to me that what people learn in their early years makes a profound impact, no matter how intentional or Unintentional. Profound ... I know. More like, Duh! Anyway, Point Being, Anything out of the ordinary, distant from that which creates Cradling Boredom is something to fear ... in the minds of Most.
Comfort of the familiar is what lulls us to slumber so peacefully. Familiar makes Adventure ... Learning ... and Alien assume the likeness of Uncertainty ... Discomfort ... Unnecessary. After all, if we are making it fine without It, why change? Takes much less effort to withdraw into our cavernous existences and look with wide, naive eyes at that which makes us tremble ... from a safe distance. Religion has so molded our "existence" that it has made questioning ... reasoning ... rationalizing Unnecessary. The Playbook is written ... the script well practiced ... Bullshit.
So back to Death. Such an Eccentric ol' Chap. Really. He gets such a bad wrap. And, yet, he is so good natured. Despite the imposition he seems to inflict, few understand his job. Religion has so ingrained fear into the hearts and minds of the masses via:
1. Commandments: Do as you are told. Do as I say, Not as I do. Don't screw up. Your Soul ... The Souls of your children depend on your good deeds! Screw around, screw others, but By Goodness, you'd best get your butt in the pew on Sunday and ask for forgiveness ... Otherwise ... well, enough threats ... For now. Do not fail when you are tested ... if you have to drag them kicking and screaming to the alter ... then, do it ... Oooops! Just kidding. Just wanted to see if you would. You did. You had better laugh, I made a joke!
2. Guilt: Mess up too bad here (Earth) and your chances for the Afterlife are yanked. [Enter Stage Right: Notions of Reincarnation, Eternal Damnation, Redemption, Eviction, Limbo and Prayer ... Always have a Plan B.]
3. Temptation: Reject All Human notions, instincts, inclinations, and "Human-ness". It is bad for you ... bad for your soul ... If you Give In, you are a SINNER. You are no longer of the Chosen. How many Hail Mary-s shall be uttered to forgive this week's Bad Behaviors???? Thou shalt spit the apple out!
4. Punishment: Refer to #s 1-3.
5. Live not for Thy time on this Sinful planet ... Live for the Next World. Save ... Hoard Thy heavenly treasures ... You'll need them for the Afterlife. That's right Boys and Girls, try not to get too attached to this Precious Gift of Life, here .... This is merely the thoroughfare that we travel to get to the Real Destination. YeeeHaw! Wait! ... what do you mean there are multiple paths to the Promised Land? Huh?
6. My God vs. Your God: The age old notion that one's religion is better than his neighbor's. Damn. Every WAR has been fought over some Belief, Ideal, Notion, Image, Religion, Practice, Etc ... and, yet, No One seems to get it. How many have died? No lessons learned from Inquisition, Crusades, the Burning Times, etc ... Humans still suffer from complexes that impair their ability to rationalize, reason, and THINK.
... that they do not take time to consider the Big Picture.
Alright, enough with the rant.
DEATH is molded by the twisted notion ...
ahem, DEATH is Influenced by the inane ideal ...
ahem, [try this again] DEATH is tarnished by the f&*^ked up notion that This Life is something to fear ... and Somehow, the final act ... er, transition, suffers the brunt of Ignorance wielded by an Unassuming, Naive crowd.
Too busy Fearing for their Sins here on the Mortal Plane that they are completely caught up. Their brains are not Washed, but Dry Cleaned, Shrunken, and Bleached to the point of believing transition, no matter how mundane it may seem and regardless of the theatre in which it takes place, is something at which to tremble.
Why not explore another notion? What about Energy? Energy doesn't simply Disappear ... it just changes shape ... dissipates and manifests in other ways. Requires one to Think. OUCH! Maybe. So, Instead of FEARING the Ol' Chap in Black, why not explore other explanations? What about the Paranormal? (Boooga booooga) Well, it may not be something to Erect Altars to or pursue as a career, but it is a nifty notion that may provide some comfort and alleviate the stifling fear. Oh, wait. Can't do that. Why? It violates the whole .... Religion thingie. Doesn't it? Aren't those things supposed to be BAD???? No such thing as Ghosties. No other Dimensions. Can't be. Guy with Fancy Robe and little Black Book says those things are Evil ... of the Devil ... AAARGH! And More Fear is Spread. Like the f*&%Kin' Plague!
It all comes down to Control. You lose control, you don't have the Masses hanging on your every action, word, glance, finger wag, plate-passing collection ritual, blah, blah, blah. Embracing one's fears, Accepting one's fears is Empowering. Liberating.
And out there ... when you become Emancipated from the ever watchful eye of Dogmatic Faith ... the guy in the fancy-dancy robe ... you become something to BE feared. No longer huddled with the submissive masses, taking control of your life, destiny, soul is very Frightening. People cannot handle that kind of power ... liberation. (What was it one once said about Power, Corruption, and Absolute Power????) It is easier to hand over the reigns, allow the Chosen to drive, and pray your soul gets There on time.
It goes against all they have been taught. It goes against the Authority Figure (AKA the Church). And it goes against all they have embraced. The explanations of things ... the belief system on which their dreams are forged would crumble. Cannot have that. There must be someone else there to feed them. Having never learned how to hold a spoon makes feeding oneself a bit difficult ... and messy ... For a time, Eventually they get the knack of it and do just fine. Kind of like Puberty. A bit awkward ... for a while. Then, POW! you grow UP.
This isn't to advocate turning one's back on Faith. Faith is beautiful. Faith is powerful. But use one's power for Good not Evil ... and Certainly NOT Fear.
Nor do any of my Ravings qualify to ease the suffering we feel during our times of mourning when we've experienced the death of a loved one. Or even not-so-loved one. Hell, I have mourned and cried for people I have never even met. But that is beside the point. YES, we feel pain, we grieve, we are at a complete loss ... for a while. But we all find our way through the darkness. Call it Faith, Strength, whatever. We make it through.
Humans, well ... MOST humans are unable to overcome their Fear of DEATH b/c they do not understand the purpose. The reason we are here. I do not claim to know the meaning of life. I figure once you figure that out you get Promoted before being able to spread the Wealth ... I mean, Knowledge.
Individuals who realize the bigger picture ... embrace the notion of learning all they can while on this ride scoff at the notion of taking an early exit ... of shuffling loose the mortal coil at the tender age of 25 or 30. You stop learning, you stop living. But why stop if it is what you were put here to do? I don't understand someone saying why go beyond that point when all that is left is abject discomfort, disappointment and unhappiness.
You can't look at life through cracked glass. C'mon! Why assign value to experiences ... especially when one's remembrance of such times may alter with time? What happened to that sense of Awe and Amusement one feels when they're young? It doesn't die. It is allowed to slip from one's grasp.
People become so Overwhelmed, so Consumed, so Jaded by the hustle and bustle of life, the bad behaviors of others, etc... that they lose sight of LIFE. Good times DO NOT outweigh the Bad. It is the pleasant times we embrace and name Good. Soon as you name something you become attached to it. Period. Regardless of Good or Bad, each experience possesses BOTH aspects. Look closely.
Every moment offers some lesson. For example:
Don't stick a fork in an outlet.
Always hug the one's you love before parting.
Don't go to bed laughing ... you'll pee the bed.
Don't superglue your teeth together ... it's a bitch to get them apart again.
Never flush a condom down the toilet.
Don't add powdered Mr. Bubbles to a Hot Tub.
Never flush a tampon down the toilet.
When relieving yourself in the woods, pay close attention to spot you are marking.
There is a reason (IE: a Someone) why warning labels are placed on the most mundane items, like curling irons and bubblewrap.
Live each moment as if it were your last.
If it itches, it isn't always safe to scratch.
You don't have to lie with dogs to get fleas ... just frequent the same kennels.
We shouldn't be Drones. It's a waste of energy. Waste of time.
We aren't meant to look on our time here as some sort of drudgery accentuated by momentary experiences of bliss, happiness, and ecstasy.
Yes, Most DO "appreciate the comforts of everyday routine or the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition". It is security ... Necessity. I know this b/c I do it too. HOWEVER, There is no relief. Relief would imply that people Know what is out there ... that they willingly relinquish responsibility to having to Deal with what is out there. I'm not sure that they would if given the Informed Choice free of Dogmatic Guilt and Pressure. It's amazing how much a Communion Wafer may weigh when it is placed to Silence the tongue of one who has Much Truth to speak but is unable b/c of Pressure and Fear.
For most people, the Bad (booga booga) things that happen, the little Glitches in the system are merely Incidents ... Tests ... Quizes ... something to test their Faith. Yes, it does become overwhelming when it seems a dark cloud is always hovering ... but that is when you need to get innovative ... get creative. Do something Daring like ask "Why?", Mean it, and then make an effort to find a Real Answer and not some con-job like:
"The Devil made it happen ... "
"I didn't give enough to the collection plate ..."
"If only I hadn't visited that graveyard on the full Moon ..."
"I knew I shouldn't have walked under that ladder when the Black cat walked in front of me in order to block the sidewalk where the broken mirror lay as it reflected the image of the Black Hooded Ol' Chap with the Scythe."
Hell, Maybe I am WAY off base with this whole lil' diversion. This entire piece may be nothing more than a moment's amusement ... a convenience for argument's sake ... a revelation into the hideous abyss of uncertainty and speculation ... er, my mind. Not sure. Couldn't tell ya ... and wouldn't want to. Take from it what you will.
Until we meet again ...
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
As Douglas Adams enjoyed observing, most people on this planet are unhappy most of the time. From your own experience(unless you are filthy rich or gloriously insane), you know that the bad times outweigh the good. This of course includes those days piled upon days of seemingly endless boredom. The same-0ld same-old. Days that you don't even remember...when nothing "out of the ordinary" happened. I must judge these times, considering the relative terseness of our human existence, as to be tallied in the "bad" column. Ok, let's lump that time with the really BAD times we all have; grief for the loss of someone close, aches and pains and injury or major medical problems, financial setbacks, disappointments in the behavior of others, unfulfilled wants and needs, and times of fear and hatred. I would say that being unhappy "most of the time" in our lives is a conservative estimate.
The "good" times we have...family get-togethers, particular achievements by ourselves and those close to us, care-free vacations, holidays etc.., are few and far between for even the "happiest" among us. Most of us
That being said, my wonderment about how people fear death is indeed a puzzlement. Why we continue to want to live after, say 25-30 years(except to save even more pain to those we would leave behind, in the case of suicide) interests me. It's as if we incessantly apologize to ourselves about not only our own foibles, but those of the world as a whole. "It's not so bad", we keep telling ourselves..."tomorrow is another day"...and so on and so forth. When we know all along, that the coming days will bring pain, physical AND mental, with very little to balance our reasons to continue living at all.
Before you go "end it all" after accepting this line of thinking as empirical gospel....
This is not meant to be an indictment of life in general. Life is life...an adventure. Nor is it a blueprint for suicide. I merely mean to observe that the antithesis of life, what we call "death", albeit unknown in quality, is alternative in a quantitative sense.
I don't intend to quote anyone in this article. Everyone has their own opinion about death. It is usually influenced to some degree by religion. We all know the fables. They don't really concern me here. I have for years tried to approach the phenomenon of my demise as logically as will allow. I have found that death for the most part is almost entirely seen from the viewpoint of grief. True grief is like having a limb hacked off without the benefit of an anesthetic and the pain and scarring lasts as long. Therefore death itself is always portrayed in a "dark" light, because simply, it reflects only the dark emotions of loss on the part of those left to deal with the aftermath of loss.
But if you don't see your own end as the end to life's pain and unhappiness, or a new opportunity, or adventure, then I'm afraid that you are bogged down with these ancient dark feelings that should have nothing to do with YOU the traveler. Whether death is truly an "end" to this pain of living - mere non-existence("a consummation devoutly to be wished..." Damn, and I said I wasn't going to quote), or embarking on something entirely different, either scenario, as I view it, can be anticipated with positive thoughts. So in essence, I am saying that I know WHY death is viewed as it is, I just don't understand why most of us cannot overcome that rather basic reflex of fear, to celebrate our passing from this life. When one then offers up the maxim "fear of the unknown" to me, I must respond that death is NOT unknown. We all know it from this side. We bury our loved ones. We see them pass. We understand that every living human, no matter how frightened or ignorant, has and will experience it. It is not just for the brave, or the adventurous. I believe those that fear death have lived fearing life.