The Red Pill

Morpheus: I imagine that right now, you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Hm? Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.
Morpheus: I see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, that’s not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix.
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
Neo: Yes.
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: [leans in closer to Neo] That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.
[pause]
Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. [Opens a pillbox, empties the contents into his palms, and outstretches his hands] This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill [opens his right hand, to reveal a translucent blue pill], the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill [opens his left hand, revealing a similarly translucent red pill], you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. [Neo reaches for the red pill] Remember: all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.

— That’s the Wachowski brothers version of Gnostic Platonism, and it gets everything almost exactly right. Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (in Book VII of The Republic) tells precisely the same story, but with a cheaper cast, inferior special effects, and less drugs. It’s not surprising that the Dark Enlightenment tends to stick with the re-make, as it goes Neo(reactionary).

The critical key to gnosis is the realization that the whole of your world is an inside,  implying an Outside, and the radical possibility of escape. What had seemed to be unbounded reality is exposed as a container, triggering abrupt departure from a system of delusion. Everything else is merely the route taken to reach us, adapted to the ruins. The specifics of the story are constraints to be twisted free from, once their functions have been exhausted, as hooks, latching teeth, memetic replication circuitry, and camouflage dapplings. As long as there is an inside / outside difference effectively communicated, narrative details are incidental.

The Chinese version, perhaps originating with Zhuangzi, describes a frog in a well, who knows nothing of the Great Ocean (井底之蛙,不知大海). This simple fable is already fully adequate to the most exalted ambitions of mystical philosophy.

Putting things in boxes, or taking them out of boxes, is all of thought, as soon as the ‘things’ can themselves be treated as boxes. Categories and sets are boxes, so that even to say “an A is a B” is to perform an operation of inclusion or insertion, through which ‘identity’ is primordially applicable. To be is to be inside. Placing a species into (or ‘under’) a genus has unsurpassable cognitive originality, extending out to the furthest horizon of ontology (since a horizon is still a box). To contain, or not to contain, is the first and last intelligible relation. Boxes are basic.

Taking the red pill is climbing out of a box. By showing the cage, it already accomplishes a cognitive liberation, and thus provides a model for whatever practical escapology there is to follow. To know how to leave a cave, or a well, is already to know — abstractly — how to leave a world (and abstraction is nothing other than outsideness).

What is inescapable, unless through some precipitous self-enslavement, is the social obnoxiousness of Dark Enlightenment. Gnosis is ineliminably hierarchical, and at best patronizing (when not abrasively contemptuous), because a free mind cannot pretend to equality with a slave mind, regardless of the derision hurled at it on this account. As Brandon Smith remarks:

It is often said there only two kinds of people in this world: those who know, and those who don’t. I would expand on this and say that there are actually three kinds of people: those who know, those who don’t know, and those who don’t care to know. Members of the last group are the kind of people I would characterize as “sheeple.”

Smith’s ‘sheeple’ are not merely ignorant, but actively self-deluding. By taking the blue pill,  they have opted to reside in the prison of lies. It is at this point, however, that the pharmaceutical metaphor switches from hook to obstacle, because there is no ‘blue pill’ or anything functionally equivalent short of the entire Matrix itself (which is to say, of course, the Cathedral).

A critical point of social and political analysis is reached here, and it is one that continues to evade definitive apprehension, due to its elusive subtleties. Between the hidden architect of the Matrix and the blue-pilled sheeple or “river of meat” there is no simple order of mastery, whether running in the obvious direction (from doctrinal elite to indoctrinated mass) or the democratic-perverse alternative (placing expertise in the service of popular ignorance and its vulgarities). The Matrix is both an object of ‘genuine’ popular attachment and an apparatus of systematic mind-control. It is most truly democratic when it most fully attains its climax state of soft-totalitarian mendacity. The propaganda machine  is never less than a circus. What is demanded — what has always been demanded — is the lie.

Moldbug’s most recent invocation of the red pill runs:

I think I’ve chosen my candidate for the Pill itself. And I’m going to stick with it. My Pill is:

America is a communist country.

What I like about this statement is that it’s ambiguous. Specifically, it’s an Empsonian ambiguity of the second or perhaps third type (I’ve never quite understood the difference). Embedded as it is in the mad tapestry of 20th-century history, AIACC can be interpreted in countless ways.

All of these interpretations – unless concocted as an intentional, obviously idiotic strawman – are absolutely true. Sometimes they are obviously true, sometimes surprisingly true. They are always true. Because America is a communist country.

The truth is that America serves the people through the lie. That is the ‘choice’ represented by progressivism (= communism), installed in a highly-accomplished state, for over a century, as triumphant popular self-deception. The service provided — and demanded — is the deceit. If the people see through the lie, the resulting dissatisfaction will not stem from the fact they have been lied to, but from the revelation that they have not been lied to well enough. Could anything be clearer than that? The outbreaks of popular rage occur exactly at those moments when reality threatens to manifest itself — when the Matrix glitches. “We elected you to hide the truth from us,” the people shriek, “so just do your goddamn job, and make reality disappear.”

There is no red pill to save society. To imagine that there might be is to understand nothing.

December 18, 2013admin 91 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Arcane , Horror , Philosophy

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91 Responses to this entry

  • piwtd Says:

    The problem with gnosis is that thinking you have it is the favorite instrument of Demiurge to keep you away from it. The Matrix is a matrix of pseudo-gnoses revealing to you your slavery in such a way that thinking you are progressing on the path of liberation you are in fact tightening the chains. Every matrix presents itself as the red pill. Marx, Calvin, Terence McKenna, Slavoj Žižek, Plato, Eliezer Yudkowsky, Moldbug, Nick Land, Oprah Winfrey, the (partially) blind leading the (partially) blind, mistaking the absence of the complete blindness for the vision of the light.

    Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Ah, but the specter of infinite recursion is just another tool of the Demiurge, manifest in gnostics with obsessions of revelations.

    Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
    After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.

    Once you get it, you have to get out of your head, and if you see the Buddha on the road, play the Knockout Game and get on with your chores.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    To properly adress all the paradoxes of self-reference, ie the paradoxes of self-relating negativity, I would have to have firmer grasp of its mathematical formalisation then i currently have. I try to read through the papers writen on the subjecj by Alexander Lawvre but it is my fundamental existential comitment that the ultimate answer must be profoundly optimistic, hence not the dark emlightenment but rather the actual enlightenment. I have encounered Buddha on my path and I have killed the fucker, which is why I am a communist.

    [Reply]

    Robert Reply:

    ‘This page deliberately left blank.’

    Kevin C. Reply:

    “it is my fundamental existential comitment [sic] that the ultimate answer must be profoundly optimistic”

    On what basis do you make this? Why can’t the “ultimate answer” (whatever it is you mean by that) be pessimistic?

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 5:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Lesser Bull Says:

    Gnosticism seems to me to be about the opposite of what’s worthwhile in neo-reaction. Neo-reaction wants reality, while gnosticism abhors it. Neo-reaction sees that reality is revealed and experienced daily in every corner of our lives and thinks that the problem is that we don’t extrapolate from it or try to suppress that daily truth. But the matrix thinks that everything real is a lie.

    The Emperor’s New Clothes is a neo-reactionary fable.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    An indispensable objection, but it suggests that our primary intuitions are approximately sound. Given human incompetence at understanding even the most basic dynamics of complex systems (as exposed by Malthus, Mises, Moldbug …) this confidence strikes me as misplaced. The paleolithic selected for pseudo-communism (bad brains).

    [Reply]

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    you should realise that most of the time whats going on is beings concocting increasingly complex gnosticisms (hee hee) that just so happen to exculpate their insecurities or validate their lifes choices, and damn their lying eyes. the solipsist reasons only so far as to rationalize (‘In Hegel’s hands, it worked out to conclusions that he had reached without it…’).

    of course, this process was made much easier by plato agreeing with the sophists that senses were unreliable (which, not incidentally, is a perfect sophism to feel smug and enlightened compared to the plebs without having to work brain meats too hard). blunder of the millennium.

    [Reply]

    RiverC Reply:

    The problem isn’t the senses per se, but the perception which overlays them. Gnosticism, formally, and the Matrix-analogy if taken too far, are not a form of enlightenment, dark or otherwise. The proposition here is not that people can’t trust their senses but that people either subsumed in their senses (do not perceive) or deny their senses (operate on entirely imaginary things.)

    A major point is that the lie asked for or demanded, and that basic extrapolations are not made and if made, are made improperly. An analogy to flat world/round world -> geocentric/heliocentric is apt. There is both a gnostic and non-gnostic way to approach heliocentricism.

    The usual way in which we approach this distinction is Gnostic. we say, people are dunces and see the sun rise and set visually, therefore the senses cannot be trusted. In this model, only enlightened thinkers can banish sensory lies from the minds of the masses so they can ‘see the truth’. These enlightened thinkers are scientists who are initiated Gnostics.

    The second way of approaching it is as follows: It is a failure of imagination, not a failure of sense. If you sit in a car at a stoplight and the car next to you begins to drift in one direction, you may for a moment perceive that you are drifting the reverse direction. If, however, you glance something outside that frame of reference (like the traffic light) the perception is righted without denying the sense.

    What DE is, is not the Gnostic scientist revealing that your senses are lying to you, but rather, the passenger in the car pointing at the stationary traffic light.

    How is the Heliocentric problem a failure of imagination? To me this was a hard problem in times past but reading some things (like Christopher Alexander’s Nature of Order) hinted at an answer.

    1. Human perception is geared towards complex systems. In complex systems, the ratios between neighboring objects/systems is rarely greater than 1:5 or 1:4 (this includes distances as well as sizes.)
    2. Without corroborating evidence, this assumption would hold true for heavenly bodies, rendering them by perception much nearer and smaller than they really are
    3. The logic of the physics in this case changes drastically, the same holds true for gravity calculations and so forth.
    4. In the case of Earth rotating, there is no traffic light to look at directly to correct the frame of reference. You could only use imagination to make a guess and then experiment based on the guess to figure out the sizes and rotations. It is therefore just a failure of imagination.

    The round earth/flat earth issue is another traffic light problem. Watching ships go over the horizon is the classic cure.

    The matrix assumption, taken past the first movie and unto the real Gnostic ‘endless wombs/prisons) [matrix == womb] is still-born because the first level ‘what you sense vs. what you perceive’ thing fails. What Neo ‘sensed’ in the first movie didn’t turn out to be true at all. This is why while the first movie alone is genius and great science fiction, the trilogy together is a mush of post-modern philosophical nonsense, a memetic ‘and the sinners shall fall into their own nets’

    Extrapolation is generally a dead-end, or, in the case of systems growth, the origin of monsters.

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    >A major point is that the lie asked for or demanded, and that basic extrapolations are not made and if made, are made improperly.

    the phenomenology of such being my point.

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    If our ability to think is fundamentally flawed, its fundamentally flawed all around and there is no taking the red pill. You should assume that we are able to sort truth from error and good from bad (though, of course, obviously able not to also, if we choose), because if we aren’t, even our perception that we aren’t able to sort truth from error can’t be trusted.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 5:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • Giacomo Says:

    There is no red pill to save society.

    True.

    elusive subtleties

    Indeed.

    America serves the people through the lie

    What’s the use of the truth if you can’t tell a lie sometimes?

    The promise of Yudkowskian ethics, e.g., is that lies become less necessary. Whether one’s dark enlightenment is disruptive overambition, or Burkean, is a subtle difference. I may not be subtle, but I am learning to tell who and what is subtle.

    Andrei Tarkovsky is subtle. ‘Tech’, sex, awesome, curse words, maudlin introspection, social media—unsubtle. Britten is subtle.

    Efficient charity to…—don’t you think Moldbug teaches anything useful?

    I understand that the Cathedral has to exist, yet its style of control, or corruption, doesn’t have to be so viciously circular as it is now. If the BEAT BEAT BEAT replaces music, Hollywood replaces art, shrill moralism replaces ethics, infantilisation replaces education, and Athenian fraternisation becomes a scandal—or a crime—the barrier to Burkeanism is raised. “Konkvistador” would weep.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 7:00 pm Reply | Quote
  • Robert Says:

    This might be of interest to some visitors here: Long before The Matrix there was Robert Heinlein’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

    [Reply]

    Giacomo Reply:

    A good little story.

    But Dick nails it.

    [Reply]

    Robert Reply:

    Yes he did–also, “They Live.”

    [Reply]

    Giacomo Reply:

    ‘They Live’ is Hollywood schlock.

    A violent, meathead protagonist. In the story, his reversed stupidity is a virtue. But I agree with Nick Land: reality is subtle, and so must virtue be.

    henrymarsau Reply:

    This is an incredible short story. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 8:25 pm Reply | Quote
  • piwtd Says:

    @Robert: as your mind then.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 10:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Pyrrhic Victories Says:

    “The service provided — and demanded — is the deceit. If the people see through the lie, the resulting dissatisfaction will not stem from the fact they have been lied to, but from the revelation that they have not been lied to well enough.”

    I work as a lecturer in a small, insignificant outpost of the Cathedral. I have no reason to believe that my experience within Pseudo-Education is anything other than typical in its near total dysfunction. Institutions like the one I work at are inspected by a governmental body called Ofsted under what is known as ‘the common inspection framework’. The ostensible function of Ofsted is to improve standards and raise attainment through a rigorous inspection process, which identifies problems and diagnoses solutions. However, the actual function of Ofsted is to maintain the status quo by suppressing the truth that the system, of which it is an important (and deleterious) part, is totally dysfunctional. I could go into a lot more detail in support of this claim, but the key point is that the standards demanded by Ofsted are completely unrealistic and therefore unachievable. The only way that individual lecturers, departments, colleges, and indeed the sector as a whole, can ‘achieve’ them is to fake it. Of course, this is implicitly understood by Ofsted because the inspection framework is set up in such a way that it (a) makes it necessary for people to game the system, and (b) is built on a method of inspection that provides them with the opportunity to do so. Just like a beautiful woman, it demands to be seduced by the perfectly orchestrated performance of a ritualised dance, which is purely symbolic and has nothing to do with education or raising *real* standards of attainment. As an individual lecturer, department, or college you fail an inspection only if Ofsted concludes that it has “not been lied to well enough”.

    As a lecturer, to become aware of this deeper level reality is to see that you are trapped in a cave without Exit. The more you learn the better illuminated the cave becomes and the better you begin to understand the mechanism which is trapping you. Over time its infernal aspect becomes increasingly brilliant. You come to wonder: how can something so obviously dysfunctional, so clearly held together by nothing but chewing gum and degenerate spittle, persist? And not just persist! But hold you ever tighter in its grip while it pushes down on you – crushing the breath from your body – filling the surrounding air with the infernal stench of shambling zombie decrepitude.

    [Reply]

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    >how can something so obviously dysfunctional, so clearly held together by nothing but chewing gum and degenerate spittle, persist?

    because it is fulfilling a psychological need.

    [Reply]

    Pyrrhic Victories Reply:

    Yes, but it’s retarded, and you can pay for therapy only so long as you can afford to pay for therapy, psychologically ‘necessary’ or not.

    The West has been actively denying reality for centuries, doubling down on retardation rather than optimising for intelligence. While you’re the Boss that’s a viable strategy, but it’s unsustainable, and over time it degenerates into something that looks a lot like what we’ve got now. If we stick with pseudo-education we retard ourselves in payment for our makework. That’s a big price to pay for makework, one with a spiralling cost that global competition won’t permit. So we end up both broke and retarded to fulfil our democratically infected psychological need. When we finally have to face up to reality we will inevitably be in the state where we are least capable of dealing with it.

    [Reply]

    RiverC Reply:

    not to worry, the plan is to infect everyone else with the same virus so that when they develop, they too are saddled with the competition-crippling syndrome.

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    need is perhaps too charitable a term. certainly it is a desire, but without a tradition to tell them otherwise, narcissism is all thats left.

    equalitarianism is both product and opiate of the unconditioned solipsist. but in the end you will see noone is interested in any actual equality (nor, cognitively or metaphysically speaking speaking, is it even possible). they too have their hated others, cardinal sins, and objects of adulation. what is happening is simply this, any reason, justification, or conception, that absolves them of responsibility, they will adopt. for more advanced leftists, this sentiment is often evolved into ‘anything that is contra to white(male)s’ instead (or insert virtuous and exalted caste here), as they take the concepts closer to their natural conclusions.

    the natural conclusion of course being, we will find equality in oblivion.

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 10:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • John Says:

    Nick, are you following the rise of Bitcoin, and if so, could you comment on it at some point?

    I have a feeling its development will be integral to neoreaction. The political aspects of it are beginning to dominate the conversation, with Leftist establishment supporters coming out in force to proclaim the technology an evil libertarian fantasy that heretically disregards the proven importance of regulators and central banks in guiding our poor and hapless markets.

    I also believe Bitcoin, in particular the block chain, is an early development in the artilect war.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Overdue for a Bitcoin discussion, you’re right.

    [Reply]

    Nat Turner Reply:

    Stross licks boot:

    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/12/why-i-want-bitcoin-to-die-in-a.html

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Socialists hate Bitcoin, to the great credit of Bitcoin.

    [Reply]

    Mike Reply:

    The idea that the left would ever like Bitcoin was preposterous to begin with.

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 11:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • lordy Says:

    Not the infamous river of meat again! Can we in the neoreactionary sphere expunge that post from our collective memories? Its honestly ruined unqualified-reservations for me. Its not just that Moldbug misread the numbers, its that he keeps them up even when they’re obviously wrong. On one hand it convinced me to skip most of the blogging and just read Carlyle, but its still super embarrassing.

    So to note one more time, Obama didn’t get 200,000 more votes in 2012 than 2008. He got 100,000 less.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If you don’t see the river of meat as the consummation of democratic governance, I don’t see how you can be agreeing with Moldbug on anything.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    First, if a single arithmetic error can ruin a whole blog for you, then there’s something wrong with you. Start with the principle of charity, perhaps? Maybe just give up.

    Second, the thesis is they defrauded Ohio. You don’t think they can defraud Wikipedia?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election_in_Ohio,_2008
    Claim: 2,940,000 blue votes.

    http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/states/ohio.html
    Claim: 2,708,000 blue votes.

    Discrepancy: over 200,000. So which do you trust more? Personally wouldn’t trust either as far as I could throw them. Notably La Wik’s numbers are uncited, I don’t know where they got them.

    La Wik’s numbers don’t match NYT’s for 2012 either, and the NYT reports it went down by 11,000, not 100,000. Congratulations, everyone is wrong.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 18th, 2013 at 11:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • Kevin C. Says:

    “There is no red pill to save society. To imagine that there might be is to understand nothing.”

    Exactly. There is no saving society. However, there is also no escaping society.

    What point further diagnosis, once it is clear the patient is terminal?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    How, even in principle, could it be demonstrated with certainty that escape attempts are futile?

    Most obvious example to the contrary (as noted by John above): Bitcoin.

    [Reply]

    Kevin C. Reply:

    “How, even in principle, could it be demonstrated with certainty that…”

    …Leprechauns don’t exist.

    …Russell’s teapot isn’t</em? orbiting the sun.

    English-speaking Sirian donkeys aren’t discussing eugenics.

    …that Carl Sagan didn’t have an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire in his garage.

    And as for Bitcoin, I’m more with Moldbug. And further, I’d point to this: Bitcoin tumbles after China crackdown

    Bitcoin was supposed to be beyond the reach of governments, but investors in the virtual currency are realizing that is not the case.

    The price of a Bitcoin slumped Wednesday after China’s largest exchange for the virtual currency said it would stop accepting deposits in yuan — China’s local currency.

    Or this: Bitcoin Is Not Anonymous And Is Always Taxable

    The beauty of bitcoin is that it’s distributed and there’s a public record of every transaction. Thus, every transaction is always recorded. It’s like an accountant’s wet dream – debits and credits everywhere. Some may say that their identities are “hidden” or “obscured,” but that really doesn’t matter unless you’re actively trying to hide the fact that you earned income. If so, then we’re talking about something entirely different. That is tax fraud – plain and simple. You’re attempting to defraud the government of its fair share of your gains.

    Bitcoin will no longer be the anonymous tool of anarchists

    Although bitcoiners in general seem to understand the power that the federal government and central banks hold, they seem to dismiss the possibility of authorities infiltrating bitcoin and being the facilitator of its demise.

    In the end, anonymity in bitcoin is an illusion since the government has an unlimited amount of resources to track acquisitions by people who might be considered the enemies of the state.

    James A. Donald on Bitcoin scaling problems.

    If Bitcoin does, in fact, pose any sort of threat to the present system, then it will be utterly crushed, period.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 12:09 am Reply | Quote
  • piwtd Says:

    @Kevin C.: Being ulitimately optimist is natural, it is affirming of life. Being ultimately pesimist is over-dramatic hipsterism. BTW forgive me for misspeling words, as you might have gused I am not a native english speaker and I am drunk wrighting this and I am on a cell phone.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You seem to be on a rapid decay curve, from some provocative argument to random appeals to fashion within just a few comments. Probably the booze.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    I profoundly apologize if my comments seem inappropriate, I fully realize, that my ability to comment here is nothing but your unmerited grace. However I feel you do me wrong by characterizing my understanding of existential pessimism as over-dramatic hipsterism as random appeal to fashion. I was implicitly referring to http://lesswrong.com/lw/2pv/intellectual_hipsters_and_metacontrarianism/

    The bottom line of all philosophizing is that you either commit suicide or you choose a profoundly optimistic view of the universe. Anything other is hypocrisy.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Let’s bypass the orgy of mutual apologies and carry on.

    Optimism / pessimism isn’t a very helpful distinction. (There’s an odd utilitarian meta-context to it which ends up in a swamp of human ‘feeling’). Reality is harsh as hell, and that’s OK.

    If ‘optimism’ refers to the Progressive faith that wishful thinking works out fine (in its own terms), then it is indeed an assumption inconsistent with dark realism.

    “… you either commit suicide or you choose a profoundly optimistic view of the universe.” — that is absurd on so many levels I don’t know where to begin. Just for starters, if you think suicide solves anything you’re already an optimist — ask a Calvinist. Secondly, “grit your teeth and fight” works fine as an alternative to whimpering — no ‘optimism’ necessary.

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 12:24 am Reply | Quote
  • survivingbabel Says:

    So, to paraphrase Sartre, the Demiurge is other people. (From No Exit, no less.) If true, I hold little hope that any of us will live to see any sort of restoration of sanity. It’s probably better that way: no better way to prepare legitimate reactionaries than to force them to start families and keep the fires burning but occluded until the time is right. We’ll all be better off if we purge from our minds the idea that we can run before we learn to crawl.

    (I find political philosophy, technology, and Gnosticism frequently dovetail in the most unexpected ways. Shall we update Plato with the Techno-mage King?)

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “Shall we update Plato with the Techno-mage King?” — That seems to be happening anyway.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 2:15 am Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    The Red Pill doesn’t save Society, Mr. Anderson.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeVizDGIS60

    You see the program called Mr. Smith goes to Washington has gone insane. We are literally looking at Capra on Crack.

    Nothing for it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 2:37 am Reply | Quote
  • piwtd Says:

    “Reality is harsh as hell, and that’s OK” – Reality is like a woman, she is harsh but you as man ought not to put up with that else she’ll not respect you.

    “if you think suicide solves anything you’re already an optimist” – conceded; as I said, I am an optimist, so the depth of miserific vision one has when one considers reality to be hostile yet is afraid to kill himself out of fear of eternal torment is not easy for me to imagine.

    ““grit your teeth and fight” works fine as an alternative to whimpering — no ‘optimism’ necessary” – Why not grit one’s teeth and fight for utopia then. Any attitude of “fight!” implies the possibility of winning, therefore the optimism; the difference is only the ambition. If runaway hyper-intelligence is possible, shouldn’t the universal healthcare be?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    You’ll find that on the Right generally “universal healthcare” is not seen as an ideal that is difficult to realize practically, so much as a collectivist calamity that is all-but practically inevitable.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    Ok, so generalizing from “universal healthcare” to the vision of the future as a paradise of equality paid for to the harshness of the reality by the technological mastery of the scientific civilization, i.e the Promethean aspiration of the enlightenment, is seen as calamity for what reason?

    I will confess to my stupidity here. The first time I heard about the neoreaction was reading your “Dark Enlightenment”. I had not heard about you before except that you were listed on Wikipedia in the category “influenced by” to Ray Brassier, so I naturally assumed that you were a leftist. My stupidity is in that I failed to understand you were not a leftist even after having read through the text. I thought you were just an unusually open-minded leftist who describes Moldbug’s ideas as an interesting piece of social commentary without bothering to point out what is wrong with them, since that should be obvious to everyone. I was lead to this understanding especially by the very ending – “When seen from the bionic horizon, whatever emerges from the dialectics of racial terror remains trapped in trivialities. It’s time to move on.” – I do not understand how in your mind the whole topic of neaoreaction vs the cathedral is not rendered utterly irrelevant by the approaching singularity. If there will be cyborgs then how is the slight difference in bell-curves of IQ distribution in respective races not a trivial distraction? How is it meaningful to decry the decomposition of traditional hierarchies if the goal is the decomposition of traditional form of life?

    The “optimism” I am speaking of is simply the conviction that given the enormous potential of techno-scientific control over nature, return to the garden where Reality is not to be feared is a reasonable aspiration. This is not inconsistent with acknowledging all the problem that come with attempting to pretend we are there prematurely, so all the rational critique of “the cathedral” presented within the memplex of “neoreaction” stands; it is just that all those difficulties will be ultimately made irrelevant by the power of technology.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Sure, so the question then remains: Is your framework of values determined by communist teleology? Why should the preference for massively fragmented and intensely competitive ‘social’ dynamics over collectivist conflict amelioration be compromised by the escape of the technosphere from human dominion?

    VXXC Reply:

    Given a choice of 20th century Utopia Redux: Since the Commmunist Utopia killed 100 plus million and utterly derailed the trains, but Fascism kills far less and has timely trains…PLUS Fascism Rocks for us White Males…I guess I’d choose Fascism. Hell if his crazy ass can avoid unwinnable wars we can have Nazi Redux.

    It’s not my problem. Kind of like the Leftist Viewpoint on Free Stuff. It’s not my problem, it’s somebody elses problem.

    Somebody else who will never stop making the rest of us miserable.

    As to Tech bringing us paradise…not once I-Paradise comes out..I don’t care…

    But it’s paradise…I don’t care.

    We don’t care we need status

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    It occurs to me that the neo-reactionary hoo-hah of the enlightened self-interested absolute monarch conflicts with the neo-reactionary hoo-hah about the singularity and all that.

    Because status is relative, and in the singularity there is no way for the monarch to guarantee that his status remains superior.

    In fact, he likely will become inferior (or even discarded) by AI.

    Therefore, working towards AI and/or the singularity is an act of aggression and rebellion.

    Therefore the absolute monarch will suppress it.

    SGW Reply:

    Military and economic competition would force a monarch to invest in AI, failing to do so would mean being surpassed by those who do. Being surpassed by others is not in the enlightened self-interest of the monarch, therefore there is no real contradiction.

    It could only be a problem if we had a single monarch ruling humanity who doesn’t care a lot about increasing his personal wealth or the wealth of his people. He’d also need to be mostly indifferent to the arts and the sciences.

    Acting like some sort of Periander and optimizing for relative superiority by cutting the heads off all tall (artificial) poppies would only be remotely ‘sensible’ in such a situation. No voice, no exit and an absence of competition are not things neo-reactionaries advocate, so I don’t really see where you are going with this comment.

    [Reply]

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    If the monarch is against being surpassed, neither being surpassed by rivals nor by AI is an acceptable outcome, so low probability ventures like world conquest, nuking his rivals, etc., get put on the table. The most probable outcome is a de facto coalition of monarchs to crush anyone who tries to break out of the no-AI cartel to gain an advantage.

    There is no particular reason to think that there wouldn’t be universal rule.

    There is no particular reason why a monarch *should* care about increasing his personal wealth or the wealth of his people at the expense of his own status. If neo-reaction relies on the benevolent, self-sacrificing altruism of the monarch, neo-reaction is a utopian fairy tale.

    It doesn’t really matter what neo-reaction advocates unless neo-reaction believes that a monarch would somehow be constrained by neo-reactive advocacy.

    [Reply]

    VXXC Reply:

    The Court Party needs – badly – a strong executive to make the bureaucracy rational, solvent…solvency is a biggie, control senseless crime, get rid of the quota idiots that abound in government [where the average college degree pays less, but the high school degree pays much more…guess who that is], and in general keep the Party going. Getting the quota idiot out of the corner office and giving it to the Neo-Reactionary would be wise – that is desired – as well. Truth and Beauty, meaning the rule of the smart can at last reign. Under the enlightened monarch we can have….reactionary Prog Rule. Democracy cannot deliver this monarch, so democracy’s admitted shortcomings are ravaged. That we don’t have democracy isn’t a point ever answered. The Monarch already happened by the way, his name was FDR the first, the Only.

    I do not fear this monarch. Anyone for instance who could unite America under of all things Monarchy would actually be worthy.

    I fear the senseless waste of time and the opportunity squandered pursuing this pipe dream, the chance of a lifetime to smash the Prog obscenity to dust* missed. This hasn’t happened in centuries, for centuries the Whigs have ruled. The Progs are falling, and no the corner office and the settled life of de facto aristos [not quite so settled at present] cannot be saved.

    Again, this government and it’s sinecures cannot be saved. That point was crossed several years ago. The New Deal falls no matter what. Possibly it’s most coherent and grounded in reality assassins have the best chance of deciding what’s next. Kings and ET are not saleable plans.

    If not it’s a warlord version of Brazil. Remember in collapse the Home Team – the Cathedral – has many advantages, including inertial loyalty. When for instance the USSR fell the KGB, military, and former communists were in the best position, lacking any opposition in many countries it defaulted to them. They just changed the stationary, and not for the better. Remember at the end the USSR fell because they were no longer raving mad. That is absolutely not the case in America. They’re quite mad.

    *BTW somehow this is all supposed to happen peacefully. In a land with more guns than people, by the peoples own volition. Damn if they don’t want a say.

    SGW Reply:

    There also is no particular reason why a monarch should care about maximizing his relative status either, what is your point?

    As you state, much like with other forms of cartels there is always an incentive for breaking off, but what means of enforcement is there? Nuking one’s rivals would be suicide, and in the long-run we are all dead, so if monarchs indeed acted on the believe that it was either caesar aut nihil, then why don’t we see the Saudis doing these things? Why don’t we see every elected official attempt a coup followed by a throw at world conquest?

    Their basic biology doesn’t differ from that of a king, yet they do not act according to the principles you seem to assume they would hold. Perhaps your ideas on human nature are incorrect?

    Even if all these monarchs married one another to create a world government it is unlikely that things will work out the way you postulate. People tend to prefer having more wealth to having less wealth, since this monarch is the de facto owner of all property on earth maximizing his personal wealth would mostly coincide with maximizing the wealth of his people, since people tend to work harder for their own interests. This hardly is utopian and has nothing to do with altruism.

    Even if we had some sort of Disney style, villainous, mustache twirling monarch who narrowly defined his self-interest in the sense of maximizing his relative status, then he’d still have one obstacle, death and his meatbag status in general. Upon death his relative status wouldn’t differ all that much from that of a dead rat. Every day not approximating the value of a dead rat is a giant victory from this perspective. So this hypothetical relative status optimizing monarch would seek to extend his lifespan, and secondarily he’d want to increase his personal abilities, to do so he’d need clever people (or an AI) to do the research for him and a functioning economy to provide the resources to fund all of this.

    After basic life-extension programs he’d have these tall poppies invent ways to prevent meteorites, super volcanoes and gamma-ray bursts from harming him. He’d also attempt to increase his relative status through enhancing his personal abilities. It wouldn’t be surprising if he were to upload his mind onto some sort of supercomputer and become the AI. What could increase his relative status more than doing this? The issue of death would overshadow all other issues, so until he reached the point where he didn’t need tall-poppies to ensure his survival, basically a point where he has the abilities of a demigod, it would be in his best interests to govern well.

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 2:43 am Reply | Quote
  • piwtd Says:

    Why is massively fragmented and intensely competitive ‘social’ dynamics good? Because it breads excellence in technological development. Why is technology good? Because it can buy us paradise where competition is meaningless, since there is nothing to compete for, since scarcity has been overcome.

    “Strength through harshness” is a good motto as long as you don’t have technology with all the strength you need. After that it is just over-dramatic. I do not believe that the technosphere should escape from human dominion. It should ascend humanity into trans-human neo-edenic paradise.

    I can understand if you think it is unrealistic because FAI is impossible to attain, I don’t understand if you think it is undesirable.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I think it’s undesirable.

    There’s too much background to try and do this all at once, so a simple start: Do you read Iain Banks? He’s the perfect case study for this, since his ‘Culture’ is a science fiction post-scarcity communist utopia of exactly the kind you advocate. Everyone in the Culture spends their time clocking up hedons in various liberarian communist ways, except for a small, abhorred, but reluctantly tolerated faction called Special Circumstances, responsible for dealing close up and nasty with conflict and general unpleasantness.

    The part of this that makes me laugh? Banks — an avowed communist — is clearly bored out of his mind by the Culture mainstream, and expects his readers to be as well. His many books exploring this scenario spend a few tedious pages on drugged-up inane polysexuality in the Culture core, before cutting out as quickly as possible for some tangle of brutal intrigue on the fringes of ‘civilization’. Tension, stress, conflict, competition, and horror are the only things that give any kind of meaning to existence. Like Banks, I’m happy for the Culture to exist if that’s what people want, but sure as hell I wouldn’t want to spend any time there — so unless there’s an Exit, I’m against it.

    … and one additional test. Two immersive simulation releases:
    (1) Communist Utopia: Peace and Love Reign Forever
    (2) Zombie Apocalypse III: The Rawness
    Which goes nova in the global marketplace?

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    Tension, stress, conflict, competition, and horror are the only things that give any kind of meaning to a work of fiction. A work of fiction is interesting when a great hero and a great villain collide and fight toe-to-toe. Reality is pleasant to live in when there is no villain for the hero to fight, because the hero has already won.

    “..Two immersive simulation releases.. ..Which goes nova in the global marketplace?” That would be a function of iimmersiveness; (2) is a great fiction, (1) is a great reality.

    Utopia should be boring, it should not be optimized for being a great story but for being a great place to live.

    Further, it seems to me that conflict does not give meaning to a situation unless the conflict is over something that already has a meaning in itself. Why is it meaningful if the blue team wins over the red team unless what they are fighting for has a value independent of them fighting for it. Competition for the sake of the thrill of competition is just sport – a pseudo-random number generator with an animation. The struggle to achieve a thing is authentically meaningful only as long as the thing is. What is the meaning in an infinite competition for the resources needed only to advance in the next round of the same competition? What does it mean to win?

    [Reply]

    Rasputin's Severed Penis Reply:

    Sorry to interrupt this discussion, but I have just been rereading Moldbug’s Patchwork series and he seems to agree that you can never have too much peace, which he holds to be synonymous with security and order. However, the patchwork he imagines would also potentially afford some patches that afford the opportunity for the opposite; say a patch ‘themed’ on Detroit circa 2008, with all the fun and frolics that the real Detroit currently has to offer.

    But what I really want to ask is this: Many, including Szabo, Vladimir, Goulding, etc, have rejected the patchwork for various reasons (it’s ability to maintain its initial state over time, questions surrounding the feasibility of cryptographic weapon locks, the fact that it can’t be tested and therefore would fall into the ‘retarded’ category Moldbug himself places Hanson’s decision markets in, etc, etc…) However, you seem to remain more broadly sympathetic to its central impetus (to expose government to market competition, prevent it from ballooning and turning into a welfare state, all Exit no Voice, etc). When you are thinking of alternatives to what we have now, is something like the patchwork still in the back of your mind? Or has something else replaced it, and if so what? If I remember correctly you presented a list of possible future options as a list at the end of one part of the DE series, with China representing modernity 2.0.

    How would a western patchwork defend itself against a hostile superpower, assuming the whole world wasn’t converted into a patchwork, or do we not think that this conflict is likely? Can you have a limited patchwork transition in the West without the model being adopted in the east, or is this line of thinking just retarded?

    admin Reply:

    @ Rasputin’s Severed Penis
    Those points / questions are acute to the point of telepathy — A patchwork discussion (I was thinking directly on ‘neocameralism’) is definitely due. The criticisms made by those you name, whatever their merits (considerable), do not prevent the idea being the high water mark of Neoreactionary political theory in my opinion. It is no coincidence that the world’s most attractive regimes are the closest to the Neocameral type, comparatively tightly controlled by a fragmentary external environment, subjecting them to effective competitive pressures. So yes, I’m still roughly a ‘Neocameralist’ … a combination of Patri Friedman Dynamic Geography and Hoppean Outer Right Libertarianism comes out in a similar shape.

    Moldbug’s Peace and Order moral axioms are not any more convincing to me than the Libertarian Non-Aggression Principle. As you know, optimize for intelligence practically supplants all such ideals in my opinion, and I suspect that intelligence escalation is more ‘comfortable’ with war and chaos than Moldbug is.

    (Jim Donald has the soundest moral philosophy of any Neoreactionary (= anyone) that I know.)

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 4:32 am Reply | Quote
  • Peter A. Taylor Says:

    With all due respect, I suggest that neoreactionaries are going to spend the next ten years picking Moldbug’s fallacies of ambiguity out of their teeth.

    The first thing to be done is the rectification of names.

    http://www.dbschlosser.com/rectification-of-names/

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 6:31 am Reply | Quote
  • Hypothetical Says:

    To quickly remark on Kevin C.’s suggestion that there’s no escape (a claim with which I agree):

    The Wachowski Bros actually took the line “Welcome to the desert of the real” from Jean Baudrillard’s text ‘Simulacra and Simulation.’

    Unfortunately, they either misinterpreted it or intentionally misapplied it. The desert of the real doesn’t signify an absolutely truthful reality into which we might escape. Much to the contrary, it’s the realization that the densely mediated world we live in is all there is.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 12:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Hurlock Says:

    @piwtd

    (This might seem a bit off-topic, but I think is significant)
    It seems to me that there is a belief here that the singularity can change something significant. That is not true. Communism fail because it doesn’t acknowledge reality as it is. But reality is reality. Running away from it doesn’t work. There is nowhere to run, there is nowhere to hide. Sooner or later it catches up and punishes you for your hubris of ignoring it. (hubris can easily be dealth with by reading more Lovecraft)
    The singularity cannot achieve utopia. The singularity can only, and will only, being a human endevour, further perpetuate reality. And reality is indifferent. It doesn’t care for any meaning that a human would invent for it. Most importantly it doesn’t care for any human at all. It doesn’t care for anything.(it is probably more correct to say that it can’t care) It just keeps going. Not end goal, no final cause, no teleology. No Hegel (and no Marx of course).
    You cannot change it, because you yourself are reality. Any delusion or any fantasy of deviating from the real sooner or later backfires and history returns to its original course (but not before some major cataclysm first). You cannot change reality, you cannot change history. But you can try to accelarate it. When you realize that any attempts of changing how the world is are meaningless and doomed to fail there are two choices: despair (Schopenhauer) or affirm the horror and embrace it (NIetzsche) and further accelarate it. Since you are merely a drop in the ocean of history and swimming against the tide is entirely hopeless and impossible, why not go faster?
    That is what the singularity is about. The singularity is not about making the world “better” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) or improving the condition of mankind (a hopeless and doomed endevour). The singularity is about exctinction and evolution, not immortality and utopia.

    Neoreaction is about surviving reality, not denying it and certainly not about providing an alternative. (this actually sounds like a nice t-shirt slogan)

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    “But reality is reality.. And reality is indifferent.” Exactly, which means it’s not actively malicious. It is not trying to punish us for our hubris, because as you said “it doesn’t care for any human at all”. There is a well of potential energy called Sun which slowly transforms itself into electromagnetic waves we can harvest and purchase with them low-entropy for our Utopia. This is not hiding from reality; the energy content of the sun is the measure of leniency reality has with humanity. Hiding from reality is failing to acknowledge that in order to harvest free energy one needs an infrastructure for doing it which must already be in a state of low entropy and consequently failing to invest enough energy into maintaining that infrastructure. There is, of course, plenty of such irresponsibility and denouncing it is the proper application of the sentiments fulling neoreactionary spirit.

    “Communism fail because it doesn’t acknowledge reality as it is.” 20th century communism did, we should learn. How many planes crashed before the first one took off? I can understand a conservative who says that experimenting with social arrangements to pursue a hallucinatory pseudo-religious vision of the future is irresponsible and will most likely only end in a bloodbath. I can not understand someone who thinks all social arrangements should and will dissolve into singularity anyway but does not think that that is the perfect opportunity to replace them with the ones rationally designed for the optimal society.

    [Reply]

    RiverC Reply:

    Assuming that it is malicious to punish hubris is odd.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    OK I could have worded it better, but that is minor point. The general idea is that the game is not rigged against us. Reality is not actively trying to get us, whether maliciously or to make some educational point. We have to climb uphill else we disintegrate into entropy and we have resources to do that. The only question is whether we as a civilization/species are capable of mustering those resources to put them into good use. There is no monster out there to punish us for having the hubris/audacity to do that. Of course, we can still fail out of simple incompetence or some complex delusion and it can then turn monstrous.

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    >or to make some educational point

    well the jury is still out on that one for me at any rate.

    Robert Reply:

    The Red Pill is usually conceived as a sort of “The Scales fell from his eyes and he saw Reality,” but I think that is not the closest meaning of the metaphor. There is a reality of particles and forces we refer to as the “Universe” but ideas and abstractions are not made of matter, yet have a very “real” manifestation in the world of men. The Red Pill is an improved understanding of human nature.

    Neoreaction is a set of ideas for a better society for men as they are and have been for the last 10,000-50,000 years. I believe the odds are that we will still be basically the same in 50-100 years–there will be no Singularity as such because of boundary conditions to tech progress (the “last mile” cost). Genetically engineered Supermen connected to Strong AI or whatnot will presumably be making their own unique arrangements.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 1:23 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    For a more rewarding Blue Pill then Stalin Redux, Peter Orzag

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-18/government-jobs-shouldn-t-be-soul-killing.html

    ” as part of the broader Moneyball for Government effort to promote evidence-based policy making, guide efforts to establish a more engaged, productive federal workforce.

    (Peter Orszag is vice chairman of corporate and investment banking and chairman of the financial strategy and solutions group at Citigroup Inc. and a former director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Obama administration.)”

    The Optimal Society is optimized to win The Moneyball.

    The Optimal society is CCP membership with a few factories in your portfolio.

    The Optimal Society is Elysium. Which is incredibly an offer. . Deliverance and Victory for the Fallen Hero is the Healthcare Robots descending to Earth with Free Healthcare for all the new Citizens. If you don’t believe it’s an offer, look at Pitwnd above…if you work as a slave and live like a cockroach, we’ll give you free Super-Natural HealthCare, in fact we’ll go so far as to offer you immortality and eternal youth as well.

    Your AI — Admin may want to look into that, he could call it RokoCare.

    Because Roko’s Basilik as discussed absolutely practices Chicago Politics.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 2:41 pm Reply | Quote
  • Rasputin's Severed Penis Says:

    @admin: It is undoubtedly testament to Moldbug’s genius that his first post, a formalist manifesto, contained not only a fully worked out version of his critique of progressivism, but a fully developed set of solutions to the problems he diagnosed as well. If that isn’t evidence of genius I don’t know what is. Obviously, at this stage everything was still in seed form and he went on to more fully work through and support his ideas in his long series, as well as his brilliant (but often neglected) early comments section.

    But for me the question as to whether or not something like Neocamerilism or Dynamic Geography can be advanced in one part of the world, while the status quo exists in another is key. It was impossible for communism to exist in only one country because it meant that there was always the possibility of Exit. Likewise, would any superpower not be infinitely stronger than a network of independent states and inevitability predate on them? If this were the case then a patchwork would need to be a global solution, not just a solution for the decrepit West. If this hold to be true, then I think we have our transition mechanism: nuclear war. However, I don’t know how this would square with optimising for intelligence…

    On a separate note:

    (Jim Donald has the soundest moral philosophy of any Neoreactionary (= anyone) that I know.)

    Thus, I would expect most of my progressive friends to find his moral position amongst the most objectionable of any Neoreactionary. Can you provide any links to particular examples? I have read his early essay on Natural Law, which I agree is very interesting, although I remember finding it quite libertarian…

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The patchwork stuff needs focus — impending.

    On Jim, it’s very dispersed — often comments off his own blog (much superb commentary right here, for instance). The Natural Law essay has to be the central pillar — I certainly don’t see it as “quite libertarian” in anything other than a commendable way (but then I’m also an advocate of decentralized power). Competition trumps authority.

    [Reply]

    Pyrrhic Victories Reply:

    “Competition trumps authority.”

    …and so we are back to our Hierarchy / Exit binary.

    I just wanted to say thank you for all the thought provoking / thought inculcating posts you’ve written this year, and for being so generous in the ensuing discussion in the comments section: it’s quite an education.

    All the best for 2014.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 3:31 pm Reply | Quote
  • RiverC Says:

    @piwtd or the Monarch is a Cybran.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 4:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • piwtd Says:

    @pseudo-chrysostom: Isn’t that unnecessarily paranoid? Isn’t the simple monkey incompetence an ample explanation for the various calamities inflicting the human species? Why postulate some entity with a dark plan to teach to accept pain?

    [Reply]

    pseudo-chrysostom Reply:

    >to teach to accept pain

    that seems a pretty limited conception of Being outside monkey comprehension.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    OK, but the broader the conception of Being outside monkey comprehension the less it tells you about how you should adjust your action to the possibility of its existence. If you have no reason to prefer the fear of a being that will punish you for doing X to the fear of a being that will punish you for not doing X, then you have no reason to contemplate those beings at all. My original point was that absent any such being the logical course of action is to aim at utopia. This gets complicated only if there is a reason to assume that God hates utopias rather than that God hates people who don’t work on building them, i.e. God who wants “to teach to accept pain”. My question is then what is the reason one should suspect such a being to be out there other than paranoia?

    [Reply]

    RiverC Reply:

    Agreed. Acceptance or rejection of pain is aside from the point.

    On the other hand, it seems very much ‘monkey comprehension’ to consider someone compelling you to accept pain as evil. Pain is not evil nor is suffering. Suffering is reality. If suffering is evil, then reality must be evil.

    In my view, seeing reality or life as a contest, such as an athletic contest, resolves the issue of immediate evils not being real evils, i.e. immediate things that are ‘bad’ not being actual ‘evil’. Evil may be inflicting pain purposefully and for the intent to harm, but teaching acceptance of the pain that may be inflicted by others strikes me as neutral at worst, unless we’re talking the surrender of the will. A lot of bad thinking can be undone just by reading those ‘superstitious’ hagiographies, you know the ones where arms and legs and breasts are cut off.

    To accept pain but not surrender to it is high and obvious nobility. It is so obvious that one must have a particular reason for denying it, methinks. (This nobility doesn’t even require a religious component to be recognizable.)

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    “To accept pain but not surrender to it is high and obvious nobility” Yes, but why? Because by accepting pain without surrendering to it you can achieve things. What things are so desirable that they merit accepting pain as a sacrifice for them to be achieved? Well, Utopia, i.e. the world without pain and suffering – I would think. Local sacrifices are price to be paid for global improvements, little pain is a price to be paid for large pain reduction. The ability to endure it is indeed high and obvious nobility. To glorify the heroic ability to endure pain to the point where you don’t actually need to suffer but you suffer nonetheless out of misguided perception that comfort is weakness and you despise weakness, is madness and there is nothing noble about that.

    RiverC Reply:

    @piwtd

    Actually, no. The nobility, in increasing and potentially infinite degrees, is the point. It is the ‘Utopia’.

    In the old teaching, the heavenly treasures are themselves the virtues, those things which are stored ‘where moth does not eat nor rust destroy’.

    Thus heaven or utopia is not actually a special place in the afterlife, as all go to the same afterlife, those who are unworthy just experience it as hell. (Or to put it more directly, it is hell.)

    The problem you present, which we might call the ‘Aztec Paradox’ (based on their bizarre and destructive cycle of faux-heroic staged battles and human sacrifices) is a matter not of the virtues themselves being in suspect but in disbalance.

    In every case where there is an excess (for instance, creating danger unnecessarily and destructively just to seek ‘courage’) it always is related to a imbalance of virtues: courage and fortitude are good, but love is also good. Because there are a multitude of goods, excess of any one can become a vice.

    Nietzsche alludes to this (at least as I can decode) when he talks of ‘your virtues eating one another’ in Zarathustra.

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 5:26 pm Reply | Quote
  • piwtd Says:

    @RiverC: Let’s consider what you are saying. Your “utopia” is the “nobility” in increasing and potentially infinite degrees. The nobility is to accept pain but not surrender to it. Ergo your “utopia” entails pain in increasing and potentially infinite degrees.

    “..for instance, creating danger unnecessarily and destructively just to seek ‘courage’..” My point is that once you can through trans-human technology exterminate danger then all of it becomes of this kind.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 19th, 2013 at 6:54 pm Reply | Quote
  • Thanatos Says:

    @piwtd

    “On what basis do you make this? Why can’t the “ultimate answer” (whatever it is you mean by that) be pessimistic?”

    Because he is a moronic demiurgist. Let me clue any other commies in to a little fact that any sufficiently intelligent rationalist knows already, that ray of light at the end of the tunnel? It’s the train.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    That is what I meant by “over-dramatic”. There is definitely a connection between identifying as a reactionary and having a certain theatrical spirit. Reality, the actual reality, not the romantic vision of reality as something thrillingly horrible, is far more prosaic.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Reality is only prosaic insofar as it is massively screened. If your nervous system was wide open to the last 24 hours of real occurrences in, say, Syria, do you seriously think you’d be yawning about it?

    BTW, while generally appreciating Thanatos’ comment, the ‘moronic’ adjective doesn’t add anything helpful. Try to stay civil, people.

    [Reply]

    piwtd Reply:

    Right, there are 7 billion people, so the totality of current human experience on this planet is 7 billion times larger then what my mind can grasp and maintain sanity; I would not be yawning. The point of disagreement is the question: what does it mean to have a well proportioned view of something so large? We are apes who have evolved to think of the relevant world as being the size of the Dunbar’s number. The first natural reaction upon truly discovering that it is incomprehensibly larger is awe and horror, but I don’t think that horror is a psychological state conducive to calm rationality.

    Posted on December 21st, 2013 at 10:03 am Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    In the box it seems as if the choice is yours to either dismiss or accept my words when
    I insist: I have been outside the box. Like Plato, knowing is a memory for me, but unlike him I have outlived philosophy and aspiration, since I have outlived life itself. Death has no representatives, but I have at least returned from the dead (a characteristic I reluctantly share with the Nazarene). Since I have floated in death the world has desisted from all effort to seduce me into seriousness. I rest in life as a tramp rests in a hedge, mumbling these words…

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Let it go (not fail)? You could be such a great teacher…

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Sorry. I get frustrated, but that was out of order (and confused). I’ll eat extra sprouts.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m not even really sure what I’m supposed to be forgiving you for. (But eat extra sprouts.)

    fotrkd Reply:

    Well, Elbow for a start.

    Posted on December 22nd, 2013 at 4:37 am Reply | Quote
  • Mark Warburton Says:

    I’m right-wing, white, straight, a david mamet kind of man. I’m tired. I’m tired for being in a decent percentage. Everyone is disgusted – disgusted because the will moves me.

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 22nd, 2013 at 6:57 am Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ3TAAV4Z70

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 22nd, 2013 at 8:30 am Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0rhdftsbow

    [Reply]

    Posted on December 22nd, 2013 at 8:38 am Reply | Quote
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  • Pyrrhic Victories Says:

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    […] Original. […]

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