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During my philosophy degree, I found a way of being happy much of the time. It involved sitting alone listening to music (particularly Autechre, Plug and some old Orb stuff) while very very stoned. While I never mix pot with tobacco, I still often wonder if the attendant health risks should be making me look further afield for a way of sustaining happiness. The tolerance one inevitably acquires is itself enough to make one want to find something else to do with one’s time, though a shit job is still not on the list.
I have tried a couple of (dehumanising) jobs since graduation, though at the mo’ I am not working so, while I have some time to write, I thought I would add something to this site.
Before I considered the prospect of slowing/reversing the ageing process through GM, I was laying in bed aged twelve when, for the first time, I realised that I was going to die. I mean REALLY realised that one day I was going to die, and that I had no means of permanently evading this realisation, however much it might suit my immediate purposes to bury the thought.
Since and even before then, I have done my fair share of fucking-around and pursuing short-term pleasure (one of the best sorts). Often though,
there has been a background tint of dissatisfaction – a sort of vague, nagging
feeling of “why do people not seem to want to critique anything?”. While I have generally enjoyed myself much of the time, there is a double-edge to enjoying yourself against a background of a stagnant, stupor-making culture.
There is a sense in which it makes it that much more satisfying that you can stand-out and seem “interesting” or “different” with such ease while
almost everyone else is behaving like frightened sheep. There is another sense in which it makes the “fun” less satisfying though – that there are
so many institutional barriers to people developing themselves as they like so few people with whom to share a sense of freedom.
While I see it is an entertaining film and not a literal account of the “real” world, I thought The Matrix was very poignant in places.
Bit of trivia: Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” is regularly alluded to directly and indirectly throughout the film.
Having stumbled over a Matrix fanzine site which asked for people’s interpretations of the film, I decided to send-in the following. It has so-far been ignored by the person who manages the site, though I have since thought that it may be of some interest to you. As I expect you will infer, “The One” is here used to refer to anyone who embarks upon a sincere self-empowerment project despite the machinations of the state/culture.
Square brackets contain that which I have added since to supplement context. Copy now follows:
I am not Neo [the film’s main character in case you haven’t seen it], though I am someone of who’s existence you might one day be glad. I have
a particular advantage over Neo in that I am real, rather than fictional.
“The Matrix” must be taken seriously but not literally. It is an intricate metaphor, but a metaphor none-the-less. Unfortunately, the reality to which it is analogous is no easier to combat that waking-up from the matrix of the film. Because the form of the debate is among that which must be debated, I can not tell you what the matrix (or “reality”) really is.
Even though I am quite aware of what is happening, I can do nothing to help you all while my help is needed. The books mentioned below are carefully written, though ultimately contain nothing that is not also contained in many other works, albeit in a different form. Anyway, when you also become “The One”, you will be able to infer everything for yourself from everything
around you. The main disease ravishing this world-society is a lack of realisation that there is anything wrong, or that things might be better. This realisation, if and when it comes is impossible to ignore. When it happens it is both
a burden and privilege.
When more than one person begins to use the title, it might seem more sensible to use »A One« rather than »The One«. However, a consequence of being »The One« is that you are constrained only by that by which choose to be constrained. There will be chains which you only notice as they slip from around you. Among them is that of “logic”. That is when it gets scary. When quantum
theory forced a modification to the »if not present than absent« rule, even »open minded« people had to make big adjustments.
While »The One« is logically an exclusive title, there is nothing to prevent someone else also being »The One«. This could happen at the same time without giving rise to any contradiction (as neither of them would be constrained by logic).
I must warn you though, to relax one’s adherence to logic is not something I suggest anyone attempts lightly. If you want to restrict use of the concept only to when it provides predictive power rather than using it religiously, then
to abandon uncritical assent to the values of logic (to really embark on the project in earnest) can be a bumpy ride. It may even be that by attributing value to logic we provide some common basis for people to share one-another's
Remember though, if a »Society for the Preservation of Formal Logic« were recruiting members, they would risk being infiltrated by members of »The Society for the Abolition of Formal Logic« (who presumably would have no
problem with joining both societies at once). By their value-system, internal consistency is no sacred measure of truth so why shouldn’t they join both?
This immunity from infiltration would give both societies an equal recruiting advantage. So it is with the survival advantage carried by membership to each equivalent camp in one’s day-to-day life. The “mystics” and the “rigorous logicians” both represent potential repositories of good judgement. An apparent paradox is that in my experience, people of a scientific/logical bent are often more »spiritual« that the so-called »New Age« brigade (though the terms here are all pre-critical).
If till now, people all around you have generally seemed strikingly willing to conform and strikingly unwilling to question, then however frustrated it might have made you feel as a child however hard it feels now, try and realise that you are lucky.
Most people are asleep. Almost everyone in fact. A handful walk among us who are not though. Of this »handful«, fewer still are ones who have the
strength to remain awake (in the sense I have been using it) all the time. Against a background of the prevailing »culture« this is to be expected, at least at first.
Then there are the rest. The vast majority who receive occasional glimpses of themselves, but whom generally surrender to insidious duress.
Do critique rather than lock horns. Talk to people on trains. All the time you stay silent, your life is trickling through your hands. If someone resents the disturbance (psychological disruption) they can tell you. You may wish
to leave them to their sleep.
The biggest lie (“cogito ergo sum” »I think therefor I am) was told in the pursuit of truth and honesty. In fact it turns-out to be perfectly possible that one can «be» without «thinking». Indeed, «thinking» is a FAR rarer resource than «being".
Those occasions when you suddenly feel aware of the detail of your surroundings and think, »me, here, now! Doing this!« are the times you are perhaps really thinking. Nurture that sensation when you happen upon it and try to generate
it of your own volition. Chances are that if it occurs spontaneously then the culture or »meme-plex« of your mind has been momentarily faced with
some event it can not immediately subsume under a pre-existing category.
Kant writes about this sensation (he calls it »The Sublime«) in his “Critique of Pure Reason”. The book is freely available (it is little threat to “the system” because so few people have the inclination to read it).
In his work, “The Selfish Gene”, Richard Dawkins (in the penultimate chapter)observes that ideas too are subject to evolution. The successful ideas copy themselves. The unsuccessful ones die-out. There emerges in the pool of ideas what appears to resemble a »will« to live (there is little value in thinking of this »apparent« will as being any less »real« than our own).
Just as we can be thought-of as evolutionary by-products of the genes' collective need to procreate, so can we equally be thought-of as vehicles for the propagation of ideas (memes) among the »meme-pool«.
Institutions too are subject to evolution and animated by natural selection. So is EVERYTHING which manifests itself in the (your) world. Every time ou choose not to choose you fall asleep. Whenever that happens there will always be an institution, prejudice or living pattern to catch you as you all. It catches you not out of compassion, but so you do not hit the ground
and become jolted awake, thus breaking its hold over you.
To take comfort in this callously unsafe »safety-net« is, of course, a risk you might still wish to take (the “blue pill” if you like). [in the film the protagonist is given the choice of two pills – BLUE representing comfortable gnorance and RED signifying empowering and (but potentially risky) truth]
Observe yourself as you speak. Examine how much of what you say is simply learned, mechanistic pattern-deployment. Continue to deploy that sort of language by default (or prepare to frighten a great many people and draw a great deal of attention to yourself) but be ready to meet people in the company of whom you can relinquish it and be honest to the point where meaning
dissolves into will.
Do not be surprised if after putting-in some sustained effort into behaving “authentically”, strange events come to pass. Not just strange thoughts in your mind (though these are events too), but actual, external, real, inexplicable, odd stuff. The rabbit-hole waiting for everyone is deeper than any down which Hollywood will ever be able to take you.
Drugs, (particularly, speed, coke, skunk and LSD and E) can give you a taste of freedom, though they may make you less able to sustainably act upon or critically process the products of your own creative thinking. Good skunk in a vaporiser is perhaps an exception there, though all values are subject to revision.
e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now go and do something.
Your site was worth visiting, I hope this has felt worth reading.