Hangover Archives: 2021–04
I woke up at 02:00 thinking of random snippets of videos featuring the full spectrum of human experience, with human beings exploiting each other for profit, impotent outbursts of rage combined with self-righteous narcissism, moments of euphoria cut short by time and space, impulsive decisions which give no benefit to the participant on disproportionate risk, delusions of grandeur regarding our existence within society, humans in abusive relationships with the environment, the world, and with each other, humans displaying equal parts suffering and eudamonia as they feel each individual emotion demolish their higher-order thoughts, humans in general, merely existing, broadcast to the world for the approval and condemnation of individuals they don’t know, have never met, will never know, will never meet, and yet seek judgement on to validate their existence where there is nothing to validate and when there is no greater witness for the justification of one’s continuing life beyond the consciousness they possess for no reason.
There’s nothing special about any of us and when you see the same basic expressions of experience repeated ad nauseum, on Twitter or Reddit or Facebook or the local news or any other proletariat form of entertainment we imbibe because it’s the lowest-common-denominator form of serotonin and motivational salience we can give to ourselves for the purposes of hiding from what we actually, legitimately desire in life, you understand the inherent meaninglessness of assuming any of us have any right to live at all beyond inertia. The paradox of experience is in selfishness. Your inexperience with both the worst and best aspects of an emotion-driven life emboldens you to seek them out to find continued emotional experience, to live your life with the expectation of amusement through the highs and lows you throw yourself into, selfish that you are for going on this journey when it has already been trekked billions of times across tens of thousands of years of human development. When each individual’s journey is shared through mass media for the purposes of ephemeral amusement, when human lives are turned into interchangable characters for fleeting emotional triggerings soon forgotten, we realise how worthless our own experiences are by comparison. There’s nothing we can experience that hasn’t been experienced by anyone else at some other point in time, and individuals on the Internet will be happy to remind you of this fact dozens of times a day. The purpose is entertainment, but the net effect is dread.
There is a lone carpet beetle stationless on the wall. I know at any time I could crush this insignificant barely-sentient animal and it would have no consideration to my life beyond a temporary stain on a wall I have spent far too long contemplating my thoughts towards, but even this creature, this biological robot with no purpose beyond existing as one of nature’s tens of billions permutations of chance, is less convenient to kill than it is to keep alive. It exists to be killed, whether by some natural predator or by some comically ungraceful bipedal ape who has the ability, given enough time and resources, to destroy any life form on Earth. Its life is a joke and there is nothing dictating its right to be either alive or dead. It’s mere material, mobile nonetheless. It’s not even large enough to look at. Yet this simple creature, which has the privilege to experience no emotion, no ego, no pain, no joy, no suffering, no contentment, and no cognisance of its own being whatsoever has lived a more whole and fulfilling life through its few days of being than I ever will throughout all my decades. When an entity does not possess the prerequisite cognition to come to terms with the tenets of its own existence, it can finally avoid the burden of thinking about experience and to have the privilege to thoughtlessly, simply, exist.
This bug has achieved the highest form of life and I can take it away from it in a second and I will suffer no consequence for doing so.
In 2013, Penny Arcade ran a comic strip. This was back when they were still good, generating massive amounts of money, prestige, and money through the medium of nine panels a week. The comic is about this new social network called “Vine”, which encouraged people to post six-second video clips of whatever emotional impulse the videographer wants to display. For some reason, despite not thinking about Penny Arcade in the eight years since this strip came out, the dialogue in this strip has embedded itself in my subconsciousness for all that time and has popped up once every few years to remind me of how endless, how infinite the range of human experiences are, and how our ability to live as functional human beings is dependent on how much of this experience, common to all eight billion human beings on earth, we deliberately ignore. “Six second videos from around the world, stitched into a never-ending stream of pure voyeurism”, as Gabe puts it. Vine soon became overtaken by comedians, as comedy is the simplest form of pleasure and what are we alive for if not that? The all-expansive awe-inspiring voyeurism became replaced by immediacy, where if six second doesn’t make us laugh they were worthless to live. When faced with the totality of human existence, we reduce it. We negate it. We laugh.
There is a lot of pseudopsychology and bad biology revolving around whether or not social networks — and their predecessors, mass media — are good for us, useful for us, or at the very least natural for us to use in the first place. Dunbar’s Number speculates the largest group size a community of humans can sustain itself at before breaking up: 148, on average. And for groups that large, up to 42% of time spent within the group is devoted solely for the purpose of maintaining social cohesion; the beast feeds itself, and groups of humans are much more comfortable living in communities with much smaller numbers. Think about all the times you discovered an obscure community with only a few dozen members, only for it to balloon in popularity and soon approach hundreds, or even thousands of individuals who are now interested in something you have far more experience with and incentive to be a part of. Popularity fundamentally changes the way people interact with eachother, where ad-hoc social rules and informal resolution disputes must now be arbitrated through authoritative bodies as interpreted through explicit rules of conduct. What once became a village has now become a town, and if you’re truly unlucky, a city with a population which rivals world capitals. If your community is at the point where millions of people share the same hobby as you, can you really call that a community at all?
Human beings evolved to work together in small tribes where everybody knew each other’s name, where emotions register on a fractional scale, and both the worst and best days you will ever experience will only be shared with a few dozen people at most. The fundamental tenets of human psychology has not changed in the 300,000 years since they diverged from Homo Erectus, and our psychological responses are borne from the necessity of keeping cohesion in packs of humans. Approval between group members led to greater chances of survival, and the formation of disparate cultures which led to distinct identities between different tribes of humans — even those humans which split off from your larger tribe in the first place. An individual being scorned by the pack would lead to being exiled, where your chances of survival dropped to nothingness. A group of individuals in disagreement with the rest of the tribe may instigate a cultural schism, leading to the premature formation of a new tribe, at which point both tribes are mutually disadvantaged. When viewed through this historical context, it’s clear we are constantly aware of how other human beings perceive us. We have spend hundreds of thousands of years evolving psychological mechanisms which minimises our desire to be hated, and maximises our desire to be loved, out of the need to protect your life. It’s only now when the Internet connects us to every human being on Earth, where a village of dozens becomes a village of eight billion, do we suffer the consequences of this survival mechanism.
At the advice of a friend, I read the book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind”. It’s a terrible book. Everything beyond the first chapter is wild speculation passed off as evolutionary science, with adolescent philosophy expressed under the guise of big history and premises so laughable I assume the author is mocked by his peers like a schoolchild. Did you know the agricultural revolution was a mistake and that 11,000 years of human technological progress was actually a bad thing? One reviewer describes the book as not possessing any “serious contribution to knowledge”, and much like the variety of terrible nonfiction books littering the aisles of Amazon’s bestseller lists, it combined grains of wisdom with the endless chaff of bullshit. This is misinformation in literary form and everyone who read it has became dumber than before they found it.
But there are two theories presented which I find fascinating. The first is how human beings evolved language for the purposes of gossip, which allows us to keep tabs on what everyone within the group is doing to enforce social norms, and to propagate information about potential outside threats. The second is how human beings are unique among animals in their ability to create fictions about the world around them, such as inventing gods to explain natural phenomena, or the notions of countries and cultural identities which do not exist outside the human collective consciousness. These theories are representative of the best and worst aspects of human existence — intense curiosity emboldened with equal parts xenophobia, forging a spirit which gives humans the greatest ego of all animals despite possessing the same tribal mindset common to the lowliest pack mule. Primitive people felt primitive feelings for primitive purposes, and when this uncivilised behaviour is imported into a tribe of every human alive on the planet, we’re demanded to sacrifice the fundamental mechanisms which have allowed us to live for 300,000 years in favour of survival in a society which has only existed for a few decades.
Both of these two theories cause suffering when faced with the brave new world of social media. Children of the 21st century are born into a media environment in which everyone knows everyone else at all times, forever, and where the inherent knowledge of our personal lives is saturation-bombed with the heavily-edited, extremely-distorted, and always dishonest public images that individuals choose to present themselves. It’s not enough these days to be a good person and to live a quiet live; you have to publicly present your quiet life for all to see, to virtue signal your goodness to your uninterested peers, and to curate a personal brand which takes the extremely complex personality you possess and flattens it into a two-dimensional, easily-readable cartoon character which embodies a set series of traits which you believe will make people like you. Knowing the details of your private life while being subjected to the propaganda of your friends’ public lives is allowing a reality that does not exist to live rent-free inside your head, distorting your view of what real human beings are actually like when not behind a computer, and creating impossible expectations for you to live up to because the vast majority of content your friends share on social media is shit which makes them look better than you.
Furthermore, in our capitalist mindset where tech giants have overtaken the entire infrastructure of the Internet, whether they be United States giants or Chinese giants arguing with each other over which country’s oligopolies are less evil, it’s no longer important to have a small social media presence where you only interact with a few people who are meaningful to you. It’s not enough to be online for the sake of your family, but also your friends, your extended family, your friends-of-friends, everyone who has ever known you, everyone who will know you, all for the sake of presenting a version of yourself that pragmatically does not exist. And it’s not enough to be a creator or a craftsman advertising your work to a small local group, which was all the exposure you would have ever gotten before the advent of mass media. No, if you don't even have 1,000 followers, your hobby doesn’t mean anything and you should give up doing what you enjoy. Never mind that’s 852 more than Dunbar’s number. Never mind that we look at the very small minority of people who have 100,000, or even a million followers, and we aspire to match their state of success despite the massive amounts of work, luck, and advertising that demands. We create dehumanising avatars of ourselves for the purposes of creating parasocial relationships with fans we don’t know so we can pretend we are admired, when all we really need is a few people surrounding us who well and truly know who we are.
These problems are representative of the failure of the 21st century in fostering meaningful communities for individuals to find solace in, alleviating their existential ennui through immediate action for the betterment of people they are about. Even with cradles of civilisation forming in the prehistoric era of 12,000 BCE, humans found ways to cope with living in cities with populations well into the tens of thousands and the subsequent obligation to declare yourself part of an empire with a millions-strong population against similar empires with similar population strength. The most obvious basic unit of community is the family you were born into. If you were lucky, this support structure of a few individuals is an immutable safety net you can always fall back on so long as you show gratitude for the family. If you’re unlucky, your worthless, abusive parents means you have to find your own family who will take you in and love you — similar to the way queers will “adopt” victims of homophobic abuse and show them how to survive with their queer identities. Outside of your family, whether your family by blood or your adoptive family of understanding individuals, other communities you join would be based on your interests, your abilities, your beliefs, or simply how you were born as.
Support structures such as lodges, clubs, schools, shrines, workshops, and taverns are all available for individuals to join in and find people who they can get to know. By slicing the pie of the total population and only interacting with people who are similar to who you are, you create your own little population group within the large population group of the city or country you inhabit — in effect, recreating the tribal structure which humans are so comfortable existing in. You find your own little community of a few people within the massive community of several million, and where it is obvious humans cannot live comfortably past the group size of 148 people, any community larger than this will again split off into smaller groups, but this time without the threat of warfare and necessity of competing for resources as would happen in uncivilised states of nature. In this way, the existence of millions-strong countries allows for humans to recreate the human experience of forming, splitting, and recreating tiny tribes of a few dozen people. Except this time, when all humans are under the umbrella of one gigantic country, this process is much more peaceful. We keep our primal communities, but we do not keep our primal selves.
The creation of these communities were more streamlined when options for socialisation were limited. You talked with other human beings, in person, because you had very few other options. The vast majority of humans were not even literate before the 19th century, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the public school system which was created to fit capitalist needs, and it was impossible to find anyone beyond the distance you and your friends were willing to scour the streets for. Meeting new people was also simple. You socialised exclusively within your caste, with your network of friends and friends-of-friends, and whoever you got to know were individuals you were forced to work with or those who you know from your friends discussing them. Limitations breed creativity, or at the very least creates a simple and obvious goal for you to meet in order to solve a problem. The problem, for most of human history, was not that there was nobody to meet. The problem is that you didn’t know how to get to know other people and understand their differences so you can enjoy each other’s company even in spite of this.
While communications technology such as postal services has existed since antiquity, their use were restricted to the well-off and educated, and development of services which were available to all individuals only started during the 1850s with the triple innovations of public schools fostering literacy, government post allowing commoners to send correspondence for cheap, and telegram service for when you needed a message sent faster than post. Even then, interpersonal communication was not truly immediate until after World War 2, with the rapid expansion of telephone service allowing anybody to call anyone in the world from the comfort of their own home. It is clear then, that beyond the extremely thin slice of time we so happen to inhabit at this very moment, the vast majority of conversation and relationshipping that occured throughout human history did so the old-fashioned way: with your feet on the pavement, face-to-face, trying to get by talking to other human beings.
Obviously this seriously disadvantages anyone with any sort of disability which reduces their social acuity. It’s obvious the vast majority of mental illnesses and mental disabilities have existed since antiquity. Autism, schizoid personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, social anxiety disorder, and any number of behavioural disorders have no reason to only exist within the past century we have been able to medically define them. It is far more likely that the same symptons were called by different names, if they were recognised at all, and failing that merely killing or enslaving the affected individuals. Even minor disorders which reduce one’s charisma would not have been recognised as legitimate medical conditions, instead being chalked up as personal character failures. There is a cottage industry of retroactive diagnoses of mental illnesses, especially for frustratingly-vague ones such as Asperger’s Syndrome, and history is littered with examples of alleged sufferers who were merely considered socially awkward rather than disabled. It’s impossible to blame primitive men for their scientific failings, as it will be impossible to blame us for what no doubt little we know now. But I emphasize that at this point in human history, it has never, ever more convenient to find friends who accept you in spite of your disability, and to have the privilege to be able to communicate through them without having to meet them at all.
But with this benefit of convenience, comfort, and ability to talk in ways which are equal to all people regardless of ability, also comes the detriment of trying to talk to real people in an online world which feels so omnisciently fake. We as human beings are incredibly good at making stuff up about the world and believing in fictions which do not exist. On a rational level, we understand online conversations aren’t a replacement for human contact, but we nonetheless are stupid enough to believe that what is objectively words on a screen is equivalent to that contact we so crave. And while online friends are most certainly legitimate friends, there is a persistent sense of unreality we suffer when we understand that, outside of content displayed to us on a screen, this content is all we ever know of the people we are talking to over the Internet. While communications technology has gotten less abstract since the sending of telegraphs over international lines, where simple texts could be replaced with real voice calls and eventually real-time multimedia video content. But outside the occasional dank meme and family photo, the vast majority of our online conversations continue to be text-based. Is it any wonder why we’re simultaneously connected and disconnected? We understand the existence of fellow man, but where they do exist they are brands disguised as humans, and if they’re not then we only know them through words on a screen.
Even so, this phenomenon isn’t new. There are human beings alive right now who were born before television existed, and they are the first generation to be saturated with audiovisual content which further presents visions of the world taken-out-of-context for the purposes of entertainment and network profits generated from viewer retention. Is it any wonder that the most popular news stories enforce emotions such as sadness, paranoia, and anger, when these are the same emotions which encourage viewers to purchase products through helplessness and continue to tune in through addiction to outrage? Prior mass media, such as newspapers and radio, were not as immediate in their presentation; it’s difficult to inflict emotional trauma through text alone. It’s only with the advent of television have we become privy to the full spectrum of human experience which haunts us at every hour of every day. Ennui in relation to an obviously uncaring reality was once upon a time the privilege of the absurdly wealthy and well-off, who never had to work in their lives and were free to gaze out upon the unwashed masses and feel pity for their miserable lives. Now all the middle-class are kings compared to the peasants of 100 years ago, and our television sets — or in modern times, our cell phones and monitors — give us instant access to all of human misery, all at once, forever. Issues we could safely ignore because we had never heard of them until they directly affected us are now brought into our hearts and minds at the behest of propagandists who are interested in exposing you to commercials instead of exposing you to anything you care about. All the world is a play, and we’re all clowns for partaking in it.
It will be no surprise that the rise of a world in which all humans are aware of all humans within it has led to the rapid development of philosophy which points out the meaninglessness of living in it at all. Nihilism, existentialism, absurdism, antinatalism, and postermodernism all point out, to various extremes, the inanity of life itself. The recent revival of Stoicism, a philosophy which prides personal peace above all other values, is emblematic of our desires to remove our focus on others in favour of focusing on ourselves. It is impossible to care about everyone, and yet mass media presents their struggles to us in immediate, visceral detail the likes of which were impossible to express through newspapers and tabloids alone. When we are expected to feel the full force of all emotions ever known, broadcasted in tidy increments 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with brief breaks for further emotional manipulation courtesy of corporate advertisements… is it any wonder why we’re emotionally dead? When we feel everything, do we really feel at all? And when we do feel, is it healthy to feel at all when we are powerless to affect what brings us? Viewing mass media, outside those specific conceptions of media created with artistic or educational intent, is to embrace Timothy Leary’s six magic words and remove all higher-order thought: turn on, tune in, drop out. If you don’t drop out, then there’s too much to think about, and you might as well drop dead.
We suffer the knowledge of human beings we can never care about because it is profitable for someone else to show it to you. We suffer damages to our mental health because helplessness increases retention more than happiness. We suffer when we compare ourselves to other people through impossible standards because we have no sense of perspective as to how real people are in private. We suffer social media because everyone else uses social media and we don’t consider whether we truly care about anyone outside our friend group. We suffer with finding friends because the structures that communications technology have set up over the decades are not conductive to normal, healthy modes of human existence. We suffer to create small communities because an era where everyone is connected means an era where everyone gets to join in for free, making the nature of community meaningless and replacing informal relationships with formal codes of conduct which damages everyone equally. We suffer trying to process the endless amounts of information being blasted into our heads at all periods of time because we are fundamentally, biologically not able to deal with comparing ourselves to hundreds of millions of human beings who are straight-up better than us in ways that we shouldn’t care about, but biologically do.
We are suffering the consequences of the unchecked development of communications technology, appropriated for capitalist purposes, to the point where a child born in the civilised world today will have no conception of any healthy social environment beyond what is presented on social media, mass media, and Internet media at large, and future generations will become permanently developmentally stunted because of exposure to millions of human beings, millions of media sources, all vying for their limited attention through a system which is incompatible with the tiny number of relationships any individual can neurologically process. The attention economy is destroying our mental health, destroying our inner peace, and destroying our ability to foster meaningful relationships on equal terms. We live in the age of fake friends and temporary fans, where everybody seeks fifteen minutes of fame for the sake of a life lived solely to recapture that fame. What good exists in the walls of social media is ephemeral, fleeting, and gone soon enough. There is nothing to our lives, and what little we get to live in it has been taken away from us, because it’s not enough to live.
It’s not enough to be human anymore. Your life is only justified if you use it to influence.
The bug is gone now. I did not kill it, but it will fritter away to die. So it goes. Perhaps that’s a fitting end to a story I had only a brief interaction with, existing in my own vision for the purposes of being mused. If this creature had evolved cognition I would no doubt be God, uninteresting in affecting it and yet studying its habits to bring enlightened musings to the libraries of mortal men. Maybe the nature of my godliness is in its insignificance. No doubt the creature would think of me as the greatest, most powerful, most potent force to have ever existed in all of creation. It would think of this wall as its universe and speculate that, because it lived there in the blink between eternities, I must have built it specifically for its pleasure alone. But I am indifferent. It means nothing to me whether it lives or die. It’s a topic of fascination over one hour of a life which will stretch on for so long that to the bug it might as well be infinity, and if it had any conception of the billions of gods just like me, then it would think that I’m greatest than all of them, because I saw this bug among the billions of bugs just like it. But you and I, as gods among bugs, know best our mortality. You and I know how stupidly, tragically, human we are. And the narcissism of the human condition is in speculating that our own gods, whether they be thoughts or idols or countries or even other humans, care about us personally. But as I am to the bug, God is to me. And God, I speculate, thinks the same of his own god.
Try not to die. But if you do? Make sure you die famous.
Oy Deaf Cunt, It’s Seven O’Bong!
My first sentence for this Hangover was talking about crawling out of my rat cave after feasting on the corpses of the damned and being exposed to unholy sunlight the likes of which cause my skin to melt, my boils to blister, my eyeballs to puncture, and my skeleton to shatter and turn to dust as the eons take its toll and my mortal form dissipates into the great ether of the forever-beyond. I then realised I already used the rat cave joke.
I had this notion about writer’s block, which is what I had for the two minutes it took me to sit down and write down anything for this extremely important holiday of Smoking The Dank Fajita Day, and I will be double-damned if I miss out on these stanky marijuana maymays! The notion was that it doesn’t exist, and that it only exists insofar as you have a fear of being rejected for the words you write, and the inexperience to cohesively argue a point in written format. Everyone already has enough experience speaking, reading, and listening to words that they can put those words into action if they so desire. Now, I’m not saying everyone should put those words into action. I wrote an article about writing, titled “Writing”, which is about writing written words. One of the core ideas expressed is that, if you aren’t already a good writer, you are well and truly fucked. Writing itself is this magical fairy-land bullshit where you don’t know why the words come out but they do anyway and that’s we all get along. There’s little to teach beyond basic competency. It sounds unegalitarian to say that you should give up on your hobby because you suck at it and have no chance at ever improving, but as they say in the Japanese language-learning community: you can’t learn Japanese.
The point is that writing is a bit like rapping. We should all, instinctively, be good at it. We should all be able to take some random topic, such as it being Hot Fuck Marijuana 420 Smoke Up Tits Out Shit Dick Day, and be able to spin out some words on it even if they’re stupid. And we should all be able to bust out an Eyedea-tier freestyle on the drop of a dime like a lyrical miracle spiritual individual sipping Pepsi with Jeffrey Epstein and Elvis Presley, because human beings are an animal that moves their lips when they think, and we all have enough experience with the basic tenets of speech like assonance and consonance to be able to string together words in rhythmic form. And yet, when Eyedea gets on stage, he makes unsigned hype look like fucking clowns. I mean he’s dead, so he doesn’t do that anymore. But he did.
So what’s the deal? What, exactly, did I mean when I say that being good at writing is an innate, inachievable skill? I think what I mean, and what I expressed somewhat in that article, is that writing has less to do with the instantly-obvious tenants of improvement that are common to all other pursuits, and more so with the obsessive and passive preparing of all the information you need in order to make your words remain wrote once they are written. Writing has way less to do about writing and more to do with reading obsessively on every single topic that crosses your mind and creating arguments in your head in favour or against those topics, passively doing so just as an aspect of who you are as a human being. The best writers aren’t exclusively the best writers, but the best arguers, the best persuaders, the best speakers, the best whatever-they-need to express themselves in a manner that gets anonymous chuds to agree with their words. You can write in a grammatically-perfect, academically-honest, and bullshit-persprectivist manner all you want. You can be a “good” writer in that way. But if nobody gives a single fuck about what you’re saying? If nobody gives a single fuck about you personally? You’re not a good writer. You’re not good until people believe you.
I take for granted a lot of the skills I have on this topic, because I’m experienced in it. The same way an artist takes for granted their ability to spin up some sketch on the spot, I’m sure people with no experiencing with the craft of rhetoric find it amazing how I can express the ideas I do on consistent basis in a format which is actually entertaining. This phenomenon isn’t exclusive to unskilled idiots, either; I feel this whenever I listen to the words of people who have inspired me. With writing, as with all arts, there is only so much time we have to live, and only so much effort we can devote to the particular style we embody. Being amazed by other writers in your craft doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than you, but because they’re as good as you are in a style which you happen not to be interested in writing in. I can craft up a snarky argument on any random bullshit that crosses my mind, but can you say the same for every writer? Of course not. Skill is skill within the skill you have, and just because other people possess different skills, doesn’t mean yours are worthless. And it doesn’t mean, if you like my work, you have to be me. It means you have to be yourself by using me as inspiration. That’s all.
Oh, and remember that time a police officer kneeled on a Black man’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds and extrajudicially murdered him because the American policing system is a racist fucking joke? Yeah, he’s a convicted murderer now. This brief, fleeting victory in obtaining racial justice will be seen as one small step towards just punishment for that very small minority of police officers who will face trial for their crimes, and a meaningless verdict for the vast majority of abusive authority figures who will will continue to murder specific groups of Americans for no other reason than how they were born. There will be no revolution off this verdict. America is a business, and business wears a clean shirt on Monday, keeping the status quo until it is profitable not to. No matter how many Black lives have to be taken from us, no matter how many American citizens have to be murdered for the crime of being born Black, and no matter how many millions of people have to protest until their racist fucking government gets the fucking point that they’re not going to tolerate having their friends and family murdered, nothing will change. The United States is the worst shithole in all the Western world, and there is no God for them to have trust in.
To summarise, I’ll give you a passage from a comic called “The Alcoholic”, which I read several months ago and is one of the few comics that has occupied my mind over that long period of time:
“I haven’t really talked about politics in this tale, because I’ve always been somewhat apolitical, in much the same way that I’m agnostic. But here’s how I would summarize my general world-view: resigned, defeated, and heartbroken. My usual stance is: ‘I’m wrong and you’re wrong.’ I don’t think anybody knows what the hell is going on. It’s all too confusing. When I first got sober, though, at the age of 24, I became a vegan and was deeply concerned about the environment, that was my one political issue. I felt guilty driving a cab, and I saw every car and its engine as a small fire that was burning everything up.
“But then at some point I sort of just gave up in my mind. I did little things like recycle my plastic bottles and send 10 dollars to Greenpeace, but in my heart, I felt like it was a losing battle. Man was too destructive, too lost. He would always be at odds with himself and with nature. It's perhaps too apt a metaphor, but collectively man was like a gigantic alcoholic — he knew better but he couldn’t help but destroy himself and everything around him.
“My little detective novels were my fantasies — where justice could prevail, though always just barely, and usually at great cost.”
Have a good toke, kids. Or don’t, since I’m one day late. You know, since I was FUCKING HIGH OFF MY BALLS HOLY FUCK THAT GANJA IS SMOKING
48 Hours until 480 Hours Remain
It’s been said that fear is the mind killer. That’s bullshit. The mind-killer is doubt. Doubt about our actions, past present and future. Doubt about our selves, in all our incarnations. Doubt about what to do with ourselves. Doubt about ourselves in relation to our world. Doubt about what others think about us. Doubt about our status, doubt about our finances, doubt about our fame and infamy. These are the mind-killers. Not fear.
In prior years my doubts were more obvious and more public. I lost my cool and charisma, and publicly displayed my personal failings for you to see. While the quality of my work over the past five years of my amateur career is inconsistent, there is a perpetual increase in the quality of the prose and the ideas I choose to discuss. Yet consistent among even this improvement is doubt about myself and why I write at all. I have likened, many times in the past, writing to public therapy. Who has time to pay professionals for mental health services when we can simply complain on the Internet? It’s obvious these decisions have killed my mind, and although I have faith that some number of you can relate to my various online whinings over the years, both major and minor, I’m not interested in continuing on this path. Bluntly, I’m not interested in continuing on writing at all on Neocities. Hence why I announced my retirement, slated for May 20, 2021. It is still happening.
If I was being flippant I would suggest I was kidding. I’m not. I’m serious. And understanding this, what grand display do I have in store for my retirement? What funeral will I devise of my own making, watching my persona wither away and die out as my own casket is lowered into the digital grave? None, frankly. None beyond what I am similarly writing to you now. Because that’s the nature of death, isn’t it? Even when it’s pre-planned, it’s all so half-assed, all so unexpected, and through this perspective I now understand why cancer patients and near-death survivors go back to living mundane lives with menial labour in pursuit of nothing, because life really has no meaning anyway and even after we get a taste of death we realise how stupid it is. There’s no reason to live for any greater purpose when we will end up anonymous in the great beyond. Death comes for us all. Even when we know, when, where, and how, there’s no point in preparing for it. Because we’ll be dead.
I wrote so much shit about what I want to do, what I want to see, what I want to believe, what I want you to believe, and everything and everything about projects and writings and gigantic-ass art pieces that I wanted to create, come back to, abandon, un-abandon, and eventually erect in service of some stupid notion that anything I write mattered at all. That’s the whole of my five years career. A bunch of screaming into the void, waiting for something to scream back, receiving nothing. And even if I did hear a primal yell from out there, somewhere, would I even care? Or would I be too caught up in my own thoughts to feel any empathy? We don’t have time to care about others. Especially, we don’t have the emotional maturity for it. We are ourselves. We suffer, for ourselves. It’s our privilege to suffer, because nobody else can suffer for us. And if we ignore these truths, we end up more miserable, because we’re suffering in service of someone whose pain we will never alleviate. What a tragic concept, being punished for helping someone in their time of emotional turmoil. But it’s true, isn’t it? We’re the only person we can ever understand, and the sweetest feeling is knowing exactly why we hate each other. We savour it.
There are 48 hours remaining until May 1, at which point there will be 480 hours remaining. I talked prior about all my potential projects. Those won’t be released. I wrote about all the ideas I had in my head, waiting to be published. They aren’t published, and they won’t be published. Why would I ever publish something online, on my own website? Wouldn’t that be so much work? Even when aware of this final deadline, even with an understanding of everything I could potentially accomplish within it… I don’t want to be productive anymore. I don’t want to write. I just want to relax.
I wrote about this walking simulator… this “environmental sim”, as I called it, in November 18, 2016. The Beginner’s Guide. Isn’t that website green? Isn’t it so poorly-created, with its sans-serif fonts, its rough pixel art, its aggressive prose, its strange headings, its stange everything? Or is its virtue inherent in its amateur artistry and failures in creating a coherent aesthetic manifesting in a half-baked conglomeration of various ideas nonetheless endearing because of its inoffensive stupidity? Speaking bluntly, is it soul? I think that’s what The Beginner’s Guide is about. Soul. Artistry. Autism. Prisons and streetlamps and shit. “Pedantic, though important” says my footer. What an arrogant prick I was. That must be why I was beloved, among a small cult of idiots. Arrogance. Arrogance to believe I mattered. Arrogance to believe my pedantry was endearing. Arrogance in expressing my ideas to anyone who cared. Arrogance in thinking they were convincing. Arrogance, simple, arrogance. Autistic arrogance. But arrogance nonetheless.
Here is a quote from The Beginner’s Guide:
“More. More more more. More love, more praise, more people telling me that I’m good, always more more more… It’s like a disease. Solution, solution, solution.
“I guess If someone had told me ahead of time that he just really enjoyed making prison games, maybe I wouldn’t have thought he was so desperate? I wouldn’t have told so many people that he was depressed.
“Maybe he just likes making prisons.
“Even now the disease is telling me to stop, but don’t show people what a shitty person you are. They’ll hate you.
“If I knew that my life depended on finding something to be driven by other than validation… What would that even be?
“Heh, it’s strange, but the thought of not being driven by external validation is unthinkable, like I actually cannot conceive of what that would be like!
“I think I need to go.”
48 hours until 480 hours remaining. Then there will be nothing. Perhaps it’s tempting that while my unfortunate physical form will be alive and well, and this particular name of mine will be extinct, to reach out from beyond the grave and try to… fix things up a little. To fix up some grammar mistakes, some broken links, some unarchived pages, some bad CSS, some stupid technical details that nobody cared about during my life, and which nobody will care about after I’m gone. To fix up myself, my websites, to try to polish the imperfect and make my failings slightly more presentable. To pretend they mattered enough to deserve it, to spend time on them even when they’re gone, to try again, to try to recreate a moment in time which has long passed, to believe that anything I made mattered. To find external validation in what I’ve written so long ago they might as well be made by different people. To find solace in in a bibliography which I have disdain for. Isn’t that funny how my opinion of my creation changes so suddenly? It’s almost as if I was neurotic.
Do you have any idea what it means to write one million words?
I wrote with the expectation you would listen to me. To take influence from what I wrote. I did it so I could have you live your life in a manner where you can be certain it was not wasted. I did it so you could be the best version of yourself you could be. I did it so you could be yourself and use me as an example of who to be. I was an idiot. An idealistic idiot. When death comes, does anything in life matter? I’d rather you use me as an example of who not to be. I wrote so much with the expectation that it would eventually make me content. One million words, and I have this to show for it. No fame. No fortune. Nothing which makes me happy. What satisfaction I feel from my works are fleeting and passive; I read my works only to seek validation they were not wasteful. I encouraged you to create in the same way as me, to care about art the same way as me, to believe it is the only thing that makes you happy. But happiness is intangible. Anger, jealously, hatred. Those are tangible. Believe in those emotions. They will always be there, and they will be more honest to you than any hedonic conception of life ever will be.
You don’t realise the burden of writing one million words. I have said everything and I have said nothing. I have written in gluttony and I have written in starvation. My artistic tenure has spanned each emotion I cared to express, and even in this I have not expressed enough. When you have written so much, when you have become… a writer… you will understand the ennui of knowing all that work, all those hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of toiling over a text editor — a fucking text editor — writing with the belief you were spitting straight facts, you were writing real words… is nothing. Because it’s never enough. It’s never enough words, it’s never enough emotion, it’s never enough knowledge. You will write until the day you die whether public or not, and the vast majority of human beings will never, ever create anything to any such substantial amount. You will have spent all your time and energy and you will have wasted it because some anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes will have the exact same influence as you, and you will not be rewarded for your efforts. You will die unknown. You will have written one million words, and it will not have fucking mattered.
48 hours until 480 hours remain.
I think I need to go.