Thursday, February 23, 2017

One Hundred and Eighteen

Scientists of the mind claim we can’t imagine the world without us in it. They mean we can’t imagine not existing. I can easily imagine the world without me in it, because I don’t feel I belong in it.

I know most people feel the same. But most other people imagine there's another better world in which they do belong.

Most people seek to escape from this world into that other better one. Few accept that this is the only world, and try to make it better.

Monday, February 20, 2017

One Hundred and Seventeen

Despite the pain, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Not because the memory consoles us, but because knowing and accepting that we'll never be happy again reconciles us to life, and to death. Love. like life, is a disease, and those who recover from it are thereafter immune.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

One Hundred and Sixteen

I used to tell myself I stay alive because I still want to learn, to understand what little I can while I still can. In reality I want to learn new things in order to avoid thinking about old things, the things I’ve always known.

I’ve always known knowledge should lead to action. It’s not enough, as Marx said, to understand the world. We must change it. 

I’ve always known knowledge is not power. Only power is power.

I’ve never had the power to change the world. Those who do remake the world to serve them, usually at the expense of others.

The made world is not made for us, but some of us find a place in it by making ourselves useful to its masters. But now our masters, like Hēphaistos, have tripods that walk, so they no longer need our services.

Having destroyed our world to make theirs, and made us accomplices to their crime, our masters are now withdrawing inside their gated communities, like gods returning to Valhalla, leaving us mortals behind to burn in hell.  

Friday, February 17, 2017

One Hundred and Fifteen

We call ourselves the only rational animal, but we don’t use reason when deciding what to do. We use it only after we’ve decided, to rationalize doing what any other animal would recognize is irrational.

We claim we’re not governed by instinct, as other animals are, but by reason. In reality we’re governed by a fear greater than either reason or instinct, greater than common sense or the ordinary animal’s instinct for survival.

We are the most destructive of animals because we’re always conscious of our weakness, and afraid others will take advantage of that weakness. We assume everyone is our enemy, actual or potential, so we attack them before they can attack us.

When we attack and destroy others, we lose our feeling of weakness. We even persuade ourselves that we’re actually strong, invincible. But that feeling of strength is as irrational as our feeling of weakness, so it doesn’t last.     

It’s not because we fear them that we do everything our masters ask. We do it because we love our masters more than we love ourselves. They are who we wish we were, our ideal selves.

Our masters prey on us as we prey on each other, so they seem stronger than we are, just as we seem stronger than our victims. But masters are weaker than their slaves. Masters need slaves to do for them what they can’t or won’t do for themselves.

Every human society is divided into masters and slaves. We rationalize this by claiming masters are naturally superior, and slaves naturally inferior. Everyone knows this is a lie, but we're social animals, and would rather live with others in a society based on lies than live alone with the truth.   

Sunday, February 12, 2017

One Hundred and Fourteen

All animals compete to survive. But they also co-operate

Even animals whose relationship is normally that of predator and prey co-operate when necessary. Only human animals are so conscious of their own weakness, and so fearful that others will take advantage of that weakness, that they will not co-operate, not even with others of their own kind, not even when it's necessary to survive. 

Other social animals submit to the leadership of the strongest member of their society because, in return for the privileges they grant him, the leader protects the other members of the society. Only human animals submit to the leadership of  the most antisocial member of their society because they regard indifference to others as a sign of strength. They need their leader, but he appears not to need them.

This leader is usually male. Most human societies are patriarchal, and divided into masters and slaves; a combination that's rare, if not unique, among social animals. Most animal societies are matriarchal; and although hierarchal, few are divided into masters and slaves. 

Men need women for the same reason masters need slaves: to do for them what they can't or won't do for themselves. Patriarchs pretend to despise women and slaves because admitting they need them would be an admission of weakness. But even men who've persuaded themselves that they despise women and slaves admit they have their uses. 

Every woman is potentially a mother. She can give a man children, particularly sons, which are the only immortality any man can reasonably hope for. By giving him children, she also validates a man’s membership in the patriarchy, the ruling class of fathers.

Possessing a woman also enables a man to become a boy again.

According to Freud, a boy gives up his mother reluctantly, because he fears that his father, to whom she rightfully belongs, will punish him if he doesn’t give her up. But it’s not only fear of his father that persuades a boy to give up his mother. 

He believes that if he accepts his father’s authority and imitates him, becoming a patriarch like him, he will obtain a woman of his own. That woman will be only a substitute for his father’s woman, but a substitute mother is better than no mother.

Boys grow bigger, but seldom wiser. Most merely learn to impersonate their fathers because they want a woman like his, a substitute mother who will enable them to be boys again. But their fear of their fathers causes them to seek virgin brides, girls who have never belonged to any man.

The more a boy, or a man, seeks the approval of his father, and of male authority figures in general, the more misogynist he becomes. Some prove their devotion to the patriarchs by giving women up completely, because it was competition for a woman that turned father and son against each other.

But they fear being too too submissive, because no father wants an effeminate son. It calls his own masculinity into question.

Freud didn't understand homosexuals any more than he understood women because he misread the myth on which he based his theory. Before Œdipus came Laius who, according to the myth, was the first homosexual. We pretend homosexuality is unmanly, but it defined Laius as a patriarch.

Most men, whether they're called heterosexual or homosexual, want to dominate other men for the same reason they want to dominate women - they fear being dominated by them - and it's easier to dominate others by seducing them, inducing them to surrender willingly.

Laius was a patriarch, but he was not a man. He was a frightened boy who saw his own son as his rival for the woman he saw not as a wife, but a substitute mother. He therefore tried to kill his son while Œdipus was still a baby; but he failed, ensuring that Œdipus would take his revenge when he became a man.

Neoteny, social and biological, defines our species. Most boys and girls never mature, never become men and women. They merely learn to impersonate adults, and live in constant fear that their fraud will be discovered. 

What most men, those we call heterosexual as well as those we call homosexual, desire most in another man is the same thing they desire most in a woman. Heterosexual men want virgins, girls who have never belonged to another man. Homosexual men also want virgins, boys who have never belonged to another man. A boy is not a patriarch, and will therefore love them as their father never did. That's why pædophilia has been the norm throughout human history. 

We outlaw pædophilia and pretend to find it abhorrent because, as Freud said, we most hate what we most desire. We hate the power that desire has to make us helpless fools. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

One Hundred and Thirteen

I watch too much television. I do little else now except watch television, the dream machine. But all our machines are dream machines. We've always preferred dreams to reality.

A recurring feature of our television dreams is the exploding machine. Not a bomb, a machine built to self-destruct, but a machine built to make life better that instead makes it worse, and even destroys it.

Le Corbusier called the house a machine built for living, but so is the city. He called the city of New York unlivable, but so is every city. When he heard what the residents of Pessac had done to his planned community, he said that life is always right, and it's the architect who is wrong.

Cities that self-destruct are the stuff of human history. Every machine eventually breaks down, and every dream proves to be an illusion.

The house and the city aren’t the only machines that self-destruct. Almost every television crime drama – and all television dramas are crime dramas now – features an exploding car. Whenever someone is shown walking to a car and climbing into it, almost always the car explodes. What better evidence can there be that we know our machines can’t be relied on to take us where we want to go?

Where we want to go is not another place, but another time. Another persistent dream, one which even those we call scientists dream, is of time travel. We dream of returning to the scene of a past crime, and undoing it.

We used to imagine we know more than our ancestors did, and thanks to science would avoid making the same mistakes they did. We now know that even if we do avoid making the same mistakes, we'll make different mistakes. In order to change the world and make it better, we'd have to change ourselves. We'd have to stop dreaming and wake up.