Tuesday, March 29, 2011

21st century male seeks the good life

"Study strategy over the years and achieve the spirit of the warrior. Today is the victory over yourself of yesterday; tomorrow is your victory over lesser men." -- Miyamoto Mushashi via @i570k

If I could do anything as my main gig for the rest of however long I'm around, I'd blog. Which is funny, in a you're probably not going to laugh at this kind of way. I've had a lot of time on my hands lately, being virtually unemployed and all, yet still I've managed to neglect the old SoC. Random Flashback: There's nothing like the rush of starting an assignment 1 hour before, and handing it in 2 minutes after it's due (Uni oh, how I miss you). That's what I used to think before I couldn't pay rent. Now I watch deadlines fly by like they're F-16 fighter jets given a mandate to terminate with extreme prejudice. It's thrilling. I could be applying for jobs that I don't want right now (done plenty of that already), or I could keep living the dream. Yes, it's true, I exist in a dream world where writing for the pure joy of it makes sense. I need to do more of this.

Dedicating my time to things that I care about is not a novel idea, but more often than not a rare occurrence (unless you count browsing the net in which case the time invested has probably long passed the point of diminishing returns). It's like I've been poisoned by one of Angelina Jolie's magic spiders from Salt -greatest movie reference of all time - and only now are the paralytic effects beginning to wear off. I can wiggle my toes, almost feel my arms. Am I awake yet?

The metaphor is a strange one, granted, but no less so than the abstract notion at the heart of my perpetual lack of motion. Look back over the sum and total of my writings. Perhaps (sadly?) you'll find the voracious but ultimately empty barking of a young dog transitioning into a "mature" dog, devoid of any new tricks, having failed to properly learn the old ones. I am Peter Pan with a receding hairline, king of the lost boys. I tire of this. I want to grow up. I want to be a fucking pirate and fight alligators or something. Yes we're back to metaphors, I'm starved for imagery that would imply that I'm taking any of this seriously. This is as adult as I get without the aide of internet porn. Pirates? Shiieet. Well, what is the heart of the problem then, the Alligator I must slay? Myself? Yes, partly. I am utterly terrified of everything. Success, failure these are foreign concepts, I cringe at the very of thought of thinking about them. You know the old story about 2 fish swimming in water? Old fish bumps into them and asks how the water is. They swim on for a bit until one of them wonders: "What the hell is water?" For me fear is water, it is so much a part of my world that I don't even notice it's there anymore.

Did I mention that I used to be paralyzed? Damn you Angelina and your goddamn dirty spiders. I grew up believing one day I would be a god. If you believe that type of nonsense you'll probably believe anything (Mormonism, you can be my fall guy any day). Becoming a god is a lot easier than it sounds, tick a few boxes, adhere to the social expectations set out by the group and one day, before you know it, you'll be making big bangs like primordial atoms. Yes, that was a double entendre. Making universes and populating earths is what Mormon graduate gods have to look forward to. I'll concede on this point: fucking for eternity is my idea of heaven too. But what was the real point again? Hmm, Due to my docile nature, a collection of placid eccentricities and a suffocating culture I by chance happened upon a combination of learned helplessness (don't think, just obey) and a powerful aversion to non-conformity (don't rock the boat). I'm that little elephant that grew into the big elephant that doesn't know that a simple rope can no longer retrain him. Indeed I am a lot of things.

Can't blame the church or anything else though. Jesus isn't going to materialize out of thin air and save you. No one can save you, not Obama, not Jersey Shore, not even viagra. No one. Nothing. The last bastion of hope is yourself. Same as it ever was. I've been waiting to arrive for a very long time now, but for who and for what? I fear (there I go again) that in the process of trying to play the game, I've been getting played. Living lives and dreams that I never wanted. Gradually I just packed it all in and became a hermit locked away in a 6'2 foot frame comprised primarily of pure NZ beef. I sometimes wonder when I gave up trying, just simply trying (maybe Yoda was wrong, there is a try). Success is too big a burden to contemplate, because it takes so much failure to get there. What is success though? Other people probably do not give 2 fucks about what I'm thinking. If only they knew how much I dread their opinions of me, so I shut down, operating strictly in safe mode as it were. Success was being invisible.

So now, I'll start simple: success is breathing. I'm still here mother fuckers. There are other useful suggestions about the topic as well: "Spend less time fantasizing about 'success' and way more time making really cool mistakes." says Merlin Mann. Repeat after me, it's OK to mess up, it's OK to look stupid messing up. In fact from now on it's mandatory. Still breathing? Good. Coach Wooden offers: "Peace of mind, is attained only through the self satisfaction, in knowing that you have made the effort to do the best of which you are capable." The measuring stick is one's self. It's a low hurdle at the moment for me admittedly, so why wait, time to get on track ;)


Justin said...

Your earlier recent comment:
"What's this life for? Why something instead of nothing? We will probably never know. "

More recently:
"If you believe that type of nonsense you'll probably believe anything "

Are these two contradictory? I can pobably guess the answer.... everything is nonsense?

Justin said...

Internal Consistency. This is quite rich, if you have the patience:


Loren said...

I'm not quite sure what you mean, in regard to the contradictory comments on my part. The "nonsense" one is talking about knowing that you'll one day become a god if you do 'x', 'y' and 'z.' It likely that we'll never know this for sure. And most evidence that we can measure doesn't support the claim. Looking through a secular eye it, in fact, looks preposterous. Where is the contradiction here?

Justin said...

Loren, I made a nice long reply to your question but it got lost. Ouch. Anyway, I'm not typing it again so here is the briefest response:

You said the there are some things we don't know. But then you said that something is nonsense. That contrast seemed contradictory. If you don't know something because it's out of the current scope of a particular (potentially flawed)method of measurement, then it seems unreasonable to declare it nonsense. I don't think that you believe that secular knowledge is complete.

You demonstrate a strong belief, Those can be useful.
However, as we both know, one new item of information can turn a view on it's head.

The doctrine of diefication is wonderfully reasonable in my mind, so call me balmy.

Finally, read the Book of Mormon again and enjoy General Conference.

Justin said...

Oh, and it all just makes me think of this song by Nas and Damian Marley:


Loren said...

I feel for you man. I hate it when I go to post something and it disappears.

Anyway, one of the features of secular/scientific/logical thinking, as you've pointed out, is that the knowledge accrued is provisional. Everything is only an approximation of the truth, so is only 'true' until further notice. Incrementally we're getting closer to the thing-in-itself as the philosophers say. Will we ever get there? Who knows. Epistemology gets so messy. I think we can all agree on this though, no one can objectively prove that god exists or doesn't exist (at least I hope we can agree on this). So "proof" of god comes down to a subjective form of "knowledge". Does proof of god not existing fall into the same category, maybe, but the burden of proof is on the believer. Using a subjective argument to shatter objective consensus reality is tough ask (i.e. claiming unequivocal knowledge that god exists), but that doesn't stop people from trying. These two ways of looking at the world may truly in the end be non-overlapping magisteria.

Life is filled with wonderful contradictions. I'm still not convinced that my thinking on this point is one, but feel free to categorize it as such if you must. To clarify I say there are somethings that we don't know e.g. if god or unicorns exist. We can't objectively prove it. So if we go with the next step of the Mormon belief that we can become gods as well, when we can't even say reliably that god's exist than I think that claim can be discarded as nonsense (like unicorns) until proven otherwise. Can we take care of the first big question please before we "multiply entities unnecessarily"? People can believe it, but that doesn't make it true, or somehow justify that they objectively know that it's true. Do you see where I'm coming from?

Loren said...

Speaking of contradictions and general conference here's what always puzzles me about the talks given there.

A common observation about conference even among the general membership is that there's nothing ever new that we hear there. It's always pay your tithing, say your prayers, don't look at porn etc. We tell ourselves that this is because once we learn to live these basics then the good lord will see fit to give us some new instructions.

Here's the contradiction. We're taught that the reason we have prophets on the earth is because we need guidance in these latter-days. The challenges that the ancients went through are different from our challenges today. Shouldn't we be receiving new information then? When was the last time you heard something revelatory let alone prophetic at conference? Tell us god about the morality of genetic engineering (rather than how many earrings girls should be wearing). How about some insight on how to diminish poverty in the third world. Any word on sustainability? Our natural resources are running dry. How about a heads up on when a tsunami is going to totally devastate some place? Joseph Smith called himself a prophet, he didn't always get it right, but at least he attempted to prophesy. The leaders today don't seem willing to do the same.

To summarize: We need prophets for modern revelation for modern day problems. We never receive anything modern or revelatory at the forum designed to communicate these types things, because we also don't need anything new. We just need to do the basics. Contradiction?

Justin said...

Yes Loren, I see where you are coming from. All things are ultimately observed subjectively, so 'objectively knowing' something means... two people agreeing on their subjective interpretations of something... some topics are harder to agree on than others.

I would claim that we can subjectively KNOW some things(rather than just believe it)... but it may fit on more of a spectrum of certainty. For instance, I know that the Book of Mormon is True with as much certainty as I know my left hand in front of me exists. I think that qualifies as 'subjectively knowing'.

And I think we have talked about that sort of thing before.

Yes, it's a shame there wan't anything really new in General Convference that I noticed... but I sure did walk away from it feeling better, learn a bit and took a close look at my life... hmmm, I've made a minor improvment to the way I do things this week... But yeah, nothing dramatic or exciting or new.

Justin said...

Regarding the general conference and prophesies. Logically, I can see two possiblitities, but not a contradiction.

1. If the church is true, then something isn't said because God doesn't give it priority to be said (for whatever reason).

2. If the church is isn't true, then something isn't said because... the leaders don't know the answer and a communication with God doesn't exist.

Seeing Joseph Smith established the Church and it's doctrines, it's understandable why he gave so many revelations and prophesies. I'm not sure if I should be expecting so much from thegeneral authorities these days.

Jeffrey R. Holand gave something vaguely related to what you are talking about here:

In other words, there is something in general conference for every individual willing enough to pay close attention..

From an beleiving LDS point of view, some things are important to our salvation others are not, the chief purpose of the general conference is to help people towards their salvation. There are a lot of new things I want to hear spoken of at conference, but I suppose they aren't that important for my salvation compared to what is actually spoken of. Then of course, God/the Spirit is able to work in our own lives without need for a general authority to announce it for us.

Regarding GMO, a very colourful and intriguing (non-church) interview can be found here. It takes a very fascinating look at the influences on people's motivations and beliefs http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/02/dr-philip-bereano-on-gmos.aspx

As for advice on how to live these days? the advice of keeping 1 year of food storage is especially important now. The winter has been harsh to the major food crops around the world, all we need now is a harsh summer and the $&!*@ is really gotta hit the fan. Do not tkae your food and water supply for granted. Start stocking and be prepared to defend yourself! (remember The Road? Yikes!)

Justin said...

A very interesting read (ebook). Check it out.

Loren said...

Hey man, I can't bring myself to pay money for this. Could you give me a summary. From what I can gather it looks like a new agey theory of everything. Here's a free link that explains the science of belief and some our resistance to science (although the biases apply equally well to both of us probably).

Justin said...

It was free in April. Haven't gotten around to reading much of it yet actually.

My point is the industries that make so-called scientific claims, are frequently not-very scientific at all. And if somethign scientifically valid comes along that threatens business or ego then it gets ignored.

We both know this. Quite a shame for humanity really.