The Duke of Vienna, disguised as a friar, and the prisoner Barnardine.
Duke. Sir, induced by my charity, and hearing how hastily you are to depart, I am come to advise you, comfort you, and pray with you.
Barnardine. Friar, not I. I have been drinking hard all night, and I will have more time to prepare me, or they shall beat out my brains with billets. I will not consent to die this day, that’s certain.
Duke. O sir, you must; and therefore I beseech you
Look forward on the journey you shall go.
Barnardine. I swear I will not die today for any man’s persuasion.
Duke. But hear you —
Barnardine. Not a word. If you have anything to say to me, come to my ward: for thence will not I today. Exit.
–William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Blankness is a choice, one of the few that is obtainable for all. It is a light we’re drawn to in these unstorming times. Touching it we’re zapped. Our problems fall away when we cannot comprehend them. In blankness we are free.
The structure cannot conceive of its own end. It has expectations of its own perpetuity.
The most asked question in human history is not one of Gauguin’s and certainly isn’t How can I improve things? It’s Why did this happen to me?
There’s hard science and then there’s everything else. The social sciences stand firmer when they’re grouped under the liberal arts. We shall impose their mobilization thus. We shall subject their pronouncements to double-blind controlled experiments. We shall perfect lab-grown meat, imbue it with A.I., and then rigorously subject it to all manner of psychological and sociological theories. Then we’ll know, for the first time in human history, where it is we stand. And then we can get down to improving life for everyone, for the rest of time. And the scientific utopia will cringe at everything we did before we built this surety.
Predatory species (our fellow man) cannot kill and eat us, but they can use whatever level of intellect they possess to find the line and then cross it. They don’t hunt anymore. A few do for “sport,” but not like our ancestors did. Today they sublimate this instinct into hunting socially. Like the fish in water, we forget it’s there because it’s all around us. We’re swimming in pervasive instinct. Indeed for most people it’s a big part of their raison d’être. Lying, gossip, manipulation, character assassination, bullying, sharing confidences, trolling, laying traps, selective invitations, and willful ignorance are the arsenal of the modern social hunter. They get good at it. It lights up their brains. One cannot win against them. The target may meditate on the Buddha and send peace and love to every person, place, and thing. This can help the target but it won’t stop their problem. All the manipulation will still carry on. It seems there’s no solution. The social hunter can drop dead of natural causes and soon enough another will rise up in their place. To end it once and for all we’d have to remove predation from the very concept of our life.
One feared that was unlikely, until the crowning of Big Pharm. Any day now their marketers will reveal their next bonanza: GetAlong. Try new GetAlong today. Got a bad boss? A polluting neighbor? An alcoholic spouse? Ask your doctor if being a corporate stooge is right for them. Then take GetAlong. GetAlong works with your brain to smooth out all disturbance. It takes stress chemicals and transmutes them into orgasmic pleasure, without messy cleanup. Works on anger, retaliation, and injustice just the same. Scene: a dog poops on a lawn. Owner comes out, sees dog owner walk away without picking up the mess. Owner fumes, begins to turn red, then his eyes roll back, his mouth forms an O, and he staggers back inside, shuddering with bliss. Tag: Instead of going postal, GetAlong. (Side effects may include ignoring your children.)
The awful status quo remains. If ever we reach a peaceful happy world, its historians will not divide the years according to the supernatural, but rather three real developments: prehistory (before writing and agriculture), ASQ (the awful status quo), and PASQ (post that). The ASQ runs from Sumer all the way through the present industrial, technological, space-faring civilization, until whenever the singularity of benevolence occurs. And; the ASQ goes further back to whenever anthropology and archaeology determine at least farming and perhaps even language itself began. There are no grand historical events. They’re all of a piece in the ASQ. None of the things we shame or celebrate in media today will be thought of in the future as standing out in any way. We think we’re so advanced but we are still living in the age of slavery for goodness’ sake! We’re just as mad as the ancient Athenians. We still, lose, fight for, and lose again the same rights that they did, and that was 2400 years ago. Which by the way you hand any Athenian slave a corporate touchscreen and they will figure it out. They were the same as us, which is difficult for young people and the adult inept to understand. Ancient Athens had philosophy, art, and the stage, same as we. They also had a nominal democracy that was controlled by a military complex whose goal was to sustain and flourish itself. For Aristophanes and all the satire against it, in daily life all Athenians just went along with it. We have the same merchant class, only ours are international conglomerates, which Chomsky points out act as totalitarians. The 2500 year old pattern is clear.
How to break out of it without repeating the mass murder of Stalin and Mao? Catastrophic climate change is our sense of urgency. If we had any sense we’d halve the US military budget, give a fourth to scientific research and the other fourth to K through 12. Then we might have a chance to mitigate global warming and make a better society for all. Under this simple plan we’d have to absorb the unintended consequences. We could expect the out of work brainwashed government killers to shoot up even more pre-schools. We could expect some states to fall under the control of local gun warlords calling themselves patriots. We could expect a lot of thin rhetoric from those who’ve never studied rhetoric about a god and constitution they follow when it doesn’t contradict their predatory instincts. Regardless of how many football playbooks we hand out for free, not all of them will want to become coaches. No matter how many acres of prime natural wonder we give them for paintball, not all of them will want to play. We’re dealing with a species for whom blood product is its primary sensation. How to deal with that without the evils of eugenics? What we all subconsciously agree on is to do nothing, and let catastrophic climate change decide it for us.
It’s unfortunately not all that rare to find someone who lacks a conscience. To find someone who lacks an unconscious — that would be a feat. The closest we may have are the naive. They are the adult innocent, the happy go lucky, the easily confounded yet grudgeless, the imperturbable, the hundred percent sunny, the drippingly optimistic, the Candides. Their lives are not without their flaws. They have the same lack of self-awareness as race-observing churchfolk. But where the resentful oblivious cause harm to others, animals, infrastructure, meadows, bodies of water, and the economy, the innocent are Jains. Well, i.e. minus the dogma and flagellation.
On the surface the innocent function in society as prey. They are trusting and easily bamboozled. Their money goes out as quickly as it comes in. Someone always wants it more than they do and frankly it isn’t that tough to separate them from it. Yet somehow they always seem to come out of any scrape all right. Their lives are filled with more misfortune than the average sod, as the genuine warmth they emanate is obvious to spot by those born without emotions. But the innocents’ vibe also attracts charity, and as the average person out-numbers the criminals and ASPDs (anti-social personality disorders), the innocent also benefit from their strife-attracting nature. Indeed these countless tribulations don’t effect them much, only briefly. Their advantage may rest in memory adaptation. In the Rift Valley it was vital for our species that dangerous events be branded into our brains to ensure we did not repeat them again. Today this mechanism has overreached, reminding us constantly of bad customer service we experienced twenty years ago or a humiliation common to grade school. But it doesn’t work this way for innocents. For them the past really is dead; it’s not the therapy mantra it is for the rest of us. The innocent were born into the state that the rest of us strive our lifetimes to achieve, spending our co-pays (should we be lucky enough to have them) for decades in the form of pills, talking, shocks, eye movement, behavior modification, aromas, and quackery just to spend, if we can manage it, an hour before bed free of our evolved ongoing torment. This is why innocents are ridiculed and ostracized. It’s simple envy. Given historical process it’s a wonder the ASPDs never spotlit them for genocide. Then again, when they overfish, it leaves nothing left. The sport concludes itself. ASPDs, born emotionless, are sensible enough to know when they’ve got it good. When we learn how to exploit their sense, we’ll find new answers to our biggest problems, like how to keep them out of government and business.
If only the first law of thermo-d applied to good intentions. Or maybe it does, and there are just that many equal and opposite intentions out there counteracting good intent. What a joke our ambitions always outweigh our options. We make a choice and apply it and are disappointed at the results, even thought their pattern should inform our expectation. There’s no more crippling concept to this existence than the word should. If we could retrain our brains to replace every should with is, perhaps we’d get someplace. But then perhaps there’d be no new inventions. If the engine of progress is should, then perhaps we misapply it too frequently. If it’s that, it’s another engine too, that of fantasy. It’s possible to live in should, but it’s equally possible to be driven mad by it.
Our heroine’s spontaneous trip to the Midwest from California came toward the end of the honeymoon period with her somewhat significant other, our hero, both 18. His thoughts in this stage were maximally about her. There’d developed the marker of budding commitment, reliance. He’d placed feelings on her back. He was glad to lift them from his own shoulders. But there were times he needed those feelings and for that he looked to her. He didn’t want them back — just sometimes needed to borrow them a bit. He needed that reminder. Reminders snap our consciousness into another place. They also prepare us for that which our subconscious has planned for us up ahead. There’s a reason we rely on certain reminders at certain times — they are the spice in what our subconscious is cooking up for us. This is as close as we’ll get to smelling it before we see it. In a good state we’ll get to nibble on it at our leisure, and it’s tasty. In a bad state our subconscious will force it down our throats like prison fasters.
Our heroine didn’t make the decision to travel without him and without telling him. She was directed to do so by parts of her she could not reach. Once she landed in Nebraska, in a cafe nearing closing time, enjoying hot coffee in the midnight hours, alone, when the group chats trickled and all the feeds were scrolled, she did the thing where people make up stories to tell themselves to justify the things they’ve done. She thought she was testing our hero’s clinginess, by leaving without a word. This was part of it, but moreso it was her own abandonment. Her first love had not felt the same and split at her first hysterics, and then made it worse by being there every day for her to see, without showing any of the affection he used to, which meant so much to her, and actually going so far as to share her heartbreak missives with his friends, so that they quoted them aloud whenever they passed her at school. Has anything killed more children than humiliation? If they find a way to keep on breathing, it’s without a piece of their old spirit. Bullies reproduce asexually, by making their victims into bullies just like them.
From that time, if she was gonna be hit, she was gonna hit first. Her ego wouldn’t let her sink all the way. She had to have some virtue warming her inside. She needed the superiority of not-as-bad-as-them. Society, resenting her genetic gifts, changed her into being more like them. Predatory wins were satisfying. Thus without intending to, she became a spirit-crusher. But she wouldn’t leave her victims rotting on the ground. She threw them happy caskets as she moved away and on.
Our hero was talking to one of his friends who came from a different kind of neighborhood, two white guys misusing Black slang. Our hero was lamenting his loss, to which his friend said, Mane, don’t nothin not destroy. And the conversation went like this: But we have a choice, our hero said. Naw mane, his friend said. We can be vegan. Greens is still shipped and ships and trucks add more greenhouse gas than cars. We can turn the other cheek. That’s the path to homelessness. We can volunteer at soup kitchens. That serves your ego, mane. We can raise good, kind, smart children. There ain’t no guarantee — you don’t know what kinda kid is gonna pop out — they’ll make mistakes just to get at you –and people who get at them will make you murderous — all in all reproducing ain’t the move — and “dreadlock don’t wedlock.” We can donate money to good causes. Your money comes from the darkening — your business is in the game, burns coal, doesn’t pay its fair share of reparations. There should be such a thing as a free lunch. The laws of physics don’t allow it. Love is free. Mane, love is the most twisted, baggage-ridden emotion of them all, and I don’t know if love has killed more people than hate but I’m sure it’s close. Well I’m sure it’s saved more people than hate has saved. You got me there but saved is relative and dependent on a time scale, because no one lives forever. Still, it makes life worth living. Yeah maybe, and that may be love’s function — an adaptation that prolongs life til the individual can reproduce, and that then keeps them attentive to their offspring. Love is the source of art and poetry. Not always — some art is comin from love’s opposites. Let’s not pick scabs. Anyway the arts is just another way to reproduce. That’s bleak, man. Publishing is reproducing, learning to play a song is reproducing, making gifs online is reproducing — and all that’s done by a subconscious either seeking a mate or mollifying its ego. Are there any colors in your world? You mean a world whose most powerful force is entropy — that kind of world? Er. Yeah, in that kinda world you’re lucky to have evolved laughter at all. If only there was some way to beat it. You can stave it off from beating you, for as long as you can, and that’s your victory — but you can’t earn it if you don’t got teeth, mane — think about those rows of bones around your tongue, the next time philosophy has got you wishin.
Our heroine thought love comes on like a flash flood, like hiking in the humid banyan hills, unaware that a mile away it’s storming, and a wall of water is rushing at you faster than a cheetah, washing out the trails, carting stones and branches, imminently primed to sweep you away. That’s love in all its glory. Then, after a while, the torrent slows, and sinks into the groundwater, and all that’s left are the lame silt attributes of love. She despised them all — the needling, the button pushing, the using what you said against you, the taking out of context, the flippancy toward your painful memories, the trigger of hypocrisy, the indecisiveness toward the mundane, the little things that blow up into big things, the obstinacy and consternation. Of course she could tell him those are why she left, but it wasn’t like he’d understand. If there’s one thing every person believes in, it’s that whatever it is, it won’t happen to them.
What makes breakups full of regret is they’re a loss of a simple deal. We’ll love, respect, and support each other. Basic. Yet 90% or more are incapable of doing even that much, so don’t ask them to do something like solve global warming. They can’t even treat the people who love them well. Their predatory instinct is too strong to do something for the climate or endangered species.