March 1, 2014

Who Can Know How Much Randi Zuckerberg Is Worth?

randi zuckerberg fashion.jpgcue hatred

Part 1 here

IV.

Off topic: Randi strongly believes Facebook has a legitimate place in the business world, and this makes me think Facebook is finished.  I realize this is a speculative trade to make.  The usual anxiety about Facebook's future is that teenagers aren't interested in it, but the more relevant demo here is adult men, especially the ones in suits.  Facebook runs 60/40 women to men.  In the language of self-aggrandizing social media, that's a tipping point.  5% more estrogen and Facebook will be perceived as a women's site and no guy will want any part of it except for guys you will want no part of.  Hush yourself, you have your sexism backwards:  The instant a woman notices a man flipping through Facebook and one eyebrow goes up, you can head to your car and beat the stadium traffic, the game is as good as over.  That's what happened to Myspace.  It tipping pointed into "unemployed/some high school" and The Ruling Class had to sell it to Ima Holla Achoo for 20x less than they bought it.  Now it looks like Windows Mobile, which is demographically appropriate.


Lose the men and you've lost Big Business, and at some size point a technology needs Big Business to want it, which makes Pinterest more valuable than Instagram and WhatsApp completely worthless.  This is the story of Blackberry.  The conventional wisdom is that people didn't like their emails in monochrome and preferred the sleek and sexy iphones, but you probably remember all the business casual salarymen proudly carrying around two phones like some bourgeois Frenchman with a dignified wife and a touch sensitive mistress, a couple years in a guy's going to get to thinking, "what am I, a Mormon, how did I end up with two wives?"   When Business was henpecked into supporting the iphone, Blackberry went sadly into menopause and defiantly into Africa.  Plausible deniability requires that I do not explain how layered a joke that is. 

V.

I want to believe that Randi Zuckerberg is delusional, that because she is so wealthy and famous she sincerely believes if you take a MacBook Pro to a Panera and start a mommy blog or a particle accelerator, follow your passion, you should be a TEDx speaker in no time, but don't forget it's hard work, money isn't everything, and take time out to unplug!

But this person was at Davos.  Now I'm confused, was the invite Mark + 1?  That's the easy criticism to make, that she's famous only because of her brother, but nepotism only gets you so  far, Mark has a much more intelligent wife who just graduated medical school and no one is interested in her, and when the media has no other choice but to acknowledge her they do this:

priscilla chan.JPG

I know, I know, it's probably photoshopped.  Still.

So on the one hand the media has no idea what to do with an Asian physician except depict her as a borderline psychopath on Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand they are excited to interview a lunatic  who broadcasts the appearance of excessive action-- frantic activity as a defense against impotence-- that's what the demo wants, and if you've been paying attention you will understand the translation: since the target demo has no idea what to learn from the experience of an Asian woman who despite marrying the Powerball became a physician anyway, you get Davos updates from a woman who plurals adjectives.  This isn't a criticism of her, it's a criticism of you: what do you expect to gain from all the haste, the energy, the "finding ways to be creative?"  Unlocking creativity is the third biggest swindle perpetrated by managment consultants, after open floor plans and managment consulting.  Creativity was never the problem, the problem was always the math. 

Randi probably read her book herself and I don't doubt that it took months to come up with the phrase "dot complicated", after which she needed a vacation, but she doesn't understand why she wrote the words she did, what forces were acting on her, and what these forces wanted from her that she was elevated to celebrity status.  Consequently, her demo doesn't understand either: they think she's an idiot.  This woman went to the World Economic Forum, which you probably think is irrelevant and you'd be right, but grant that they are at least pretending they are relevant; yet they still allowed her in, knowing full well if anyone found out it could completely obliterate their legitimacy.  Why take such a gamble, to what possible benefit?  Look, if Scarlett Johansson is going then at least you can say Scarlett Johansson is coming, I totally get it, but putting Randi Zuckerberg on the brochure should be brand annihilation.  

charlize_theron.jpg

for the sake of this premise, pretend she came to the 2014 Davos

"I'm pretty sure that's Charlize Theron, not Scarlett Johansson."  And I'm pretty sure they're the same person, and just because now she's Rachel Maddow doesn't mean she's serious.  "But she did actually do serious humanitarian work."  Yes, great, how about that.  Is there a blonder picture we can use for the flier?

It's probably very frustrating for whoever that woman is to try being anything other than whatever she is because no one will see her as anything but that, but this is the nature of the trade off: you spend your life trying to be seen as something, then if you happen to succeed then you will not want to be only that anymore, you are really something else.  But the world and/or your girlfriend won't listen.  This is especially hard if you simply age out of it, you want to move on with new ideas but the jerk in the supermarket wants you to be the person from '99, which means that the jerk in the supermarket still is the person from '99 and can't understand how calendars work.  "You changed!" he hisses with disgust because you fail to normalize his cortical sclerosis.  Sigh.  You can't punch him, there are witnesses.  There are always witnesses, and they will all be from '99.

VI.

You would be forgiven for thinking Randi was at Davos merely because she's rich, but consider that Warren Buffett was not there.  He's a capitalist, not a globalizer, so his brand doesn't synergize, in fact, he is the competition.   "No, he knows Davos is irrelevant!"  So why does he go on CNBC?  Buffett is a CNBC favorite, but what's so remarkable about his appearances is that while he is branded as a sober "buy and hold" investor, he is only ever asked about short term trends: are we at a bottom, what will the Fed do tomorrow, etc.  Why?  You know what he's going to say: "You want to buy good companies when they're undervalued," he'll intone over a cheeseburger, callously unaware that there are only 7 minutes until the close.  --What about Facebook?! Buy at 57?!   "Oh, I don't know anything about those new fangled tech stocks, I liked Wrigley's as a child, I understand the company, it offers durable competitive advantage."  --Oh, Uncle Warren, you're so out of touch!  (But the rest of you understand Facebook, you liked it as a child, doesn't it offer competitive advantage...?)

What does Watch Us With The Sound Down And Feel Like You're Active need him for?  It's not his words, it's him, he's the draw, he is the aspirational image of the demo of 35-54yo hopefuls: "Someday I'll be old, but when I am, I'll have become rich through the market."  So keep trading. 

And here I have to go back over something.  The harder part of the psychology is that the demo doesn't want to become full time traders, either at home all day or on Wall Street-- that part must remain a fantasy--  because then it would be a job and it wouldn't count; it has to be a side gig, then their success wasn't their "work self" but their "real" self;  no one else can claim a sliver of that success-- not the liberals with their "'entrepreneurs' just pretend they don't benefit from public services!" or the wives with their "behind every good man...!" or the echoes of their father yelling,  "you need to apply to Sperry Rand, now there's a company you can put in forty years with!"  It all happened in their head, no one else can share the credit, it is 100% a consequence of their personal value.    Bonus: if they fail, it can be quickly discounted as merely a hobby-- that wasn't, after all, their real self.

The mistake is in thinking this has anything to do with the money.  It's said that most at home traders fail, but this is incorrect: they fail at making money, but they are successful at feeling like a traderThat is the goal; the money is secondary, which is why they fail at making it.  The buy/hold/reinvest the dividends strategy of Buffet is totally opposite to what's desired, because the strategy does not involve market timing or status updates, it is on autopilot, and there's no "i" in autopilot.  Well, there's one, but it doesn't stand out. 

The trading activity itself-- the frantic activity--  keeps the rest of reality away.  You're not your job-- you're something else.  You're not your family, you're more than that.  Things have the potential of possibly happening someday, and no work will have been necessary to accomplish it.  Just you wait.

But even that's not true.   The hardest part of the psychology is that feeling like a trader isn't the final goal.  Turn CNBC back on, there's Buffett, and oh, look, there's Peter Schiff.  Peter Schiff is another CNBC favorite, and his presence is even more incongruous until you understand it isn't.   Whatever your opinion of his opinions-- debt/inflation/government/armageddon-- his are more political than financial or macroeconomic rather than technical and anyway they are 100% long term opinions.  He may tell you to buy gold for the coming collapse, but you have a few years to open a position.  So why is he there?  "Because he's right!"  No-- why is he on Fast Money

Here is the unspoken fantasy that explains the presence of Warren Buffett and Peter Schiff on CNBC:  "Someday I'll be old, but when I am, I'll have become rich through the market.  And then people will want to interview me."

VII.

Swap out the demo, and this is Randi Zuckerberg.  She believes she is worth all her money, she believes she is more than Mark's sister, she believes she has valuable opinions.  Anyone who disagrees is a hater.  You're just jealous.  "No, she's a fool!"  Then how come she's so rich?

Those who are enraged by her are actually suffering from the same delusion she is, which is why her target demo as seen by Davos includes her haters.  The standard criticism of her is that she didn't really do anything to deserve her money-- "she got rich because of her brother"--  but this is a profound disavowal of the reality: she got rich because of timing-- even though her job at Facebook was trivial, she was there from the beginning and got paid in stock options.  What's interesting is that no one makes this criticism of her, because that's what her haters believe is supposed to happen to them.   She timed the market the way you're supposed to; what she did that makes her hatable, therefore, is that she had inside information.

I don't begrudge anyone the good fortune of right place/right time, take your money and run, but first drop a knee and be humbled before God reflecting soberly on the knowledge that you didn't deserve it.   I love getting paid, do whatever you can do to get paid, but do not let the money whisper to you that you are worth it, it will be lying and you will believe it.  You hold a fetish of value and not actual value.   But even her haters want the money to mean retroactively they were already deserving of it, this kind of fortune has bypassed reality testing and instead creates a new reality,  it uses the truth in order to lie: of course I'm not rich because of my work product, duh, you can't measure a human being's value based on his labor.  I'm rich because that's what I'm worth.  "Isn't that specious reasoning?"  Oh, dear, sweet, earnest, Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

And so the hatred of her, like all hate, is revealed to be a defense.  To her haters Randi is a buffoon, a step above relationship expert, she is too glaringly undeserving of that money; Randi is an obscene counterexample to the logic that the payout mirrors value and self worth.  She is a narcissistic injury for everyone else.  So she's disparaged in a specific way: she doesn't deserve all that money because she got it from her brother.

VIII.

Not coincidentally, this is the narrative of Davos to the demo that, unlike Randi, will never, ever, ever be rich; but to whom Randi represents a possibility of it:  with globalism comes the possibility of a lifestyle independent of your work product, and, more deeply, that your self-worth will finally be recognized by the world that is happy to pay you just for your individuality.  Why wouldn't it?  Your baby pictures are adorable.

To be clear, it's not a lifestyle that could be independent of your work product-- it has to specifically be independent of your work product, otherwise its based on something other than you and thus wouldn't count.  This is why one cannot profit from "nepotism" and "inside information".  Those are bad.  That they are, in fact, actually bad is besides the point: they are the exemptions which prove you are worth your money.

It's probably unnecessary to point out that this increase in lifestyle is built on the increased work product of whoever will do it for 30 cents an hour, and anyway it is a red herring.  The real attraction for us isn't just the lifestyle, but that it systematizes-- it makes normal-- not ever wondering: how come we have more lifestyle when we didn't do more work?  How did that happen?  In 2008 it was 1933 and six years later it's 1999, what kind of bananastown calendar is this? 

sp500 2-28-14.jpg

no caption is possible

Confused, I run through my checklist: was there a war?  No.  Did they invent a new technology?  No.  Was cold fusion discovered?  No.  Did the aliens come?  Don't look at me like that, did they come?  Then nothing could possibly explain how we are all worth twice what we were worth in 2009, or even 30% more than we were worth in 2007.  "But stock prices aren't based on our worth."  Then what do they reflect?  Our productivity?  Our innovation?  A bet on our future prospects?  I ask you again: Did the aliens come? 

And hence Globalism-- the brand, not the particulars-- is attractive because it is the physical manifestation of the logic of disavowal we already use for everything else.    "I don't know how it happened, but it makes sense.  After all, I am worth it."  Economics mirrors psychology, as it always must.

So Randi goes to Davos, never once asking why they would want her there?  Convincing her demo of underproducing hyperconsumers that capitalism-- controlling capital-- is pointless and mean, but globalism-- doublespoken as "progress", "human rights", "everything is connected"-- that is a noble cause.  Remember that the "culture" she thinks she speaks for, including those that hate her-- "the startup culture"-- is premised on starting a business in order to sell the business to someone else.   Of course the idea is to get rich-- which sounds like capitalism, if you're retarded, but observe the message that is being taught: that the necessary correlate to getting rich is to give all the capital to someone else.   The power is traded for the fetish of power.  That's not capitalism, it is madness, and apparently Davos and Randi think women especially will heart it.   It'll work for a handful of well publicized people pictured above the caption, "$100 billion!  You could be next!"-- followed immediately by a story about how worthless the business turned out to be, so of course the goal for you is to sell out ASAP;  but the vast majority who have aligned their psychology with this vector will pursue an impossible fantasy at the expense of their labor and their lives.  If you don't believe me, believe Lori Gottlieb.  This logic recommended to her to drop out of Stanford medical school to join Kibu.com, and now she's a relationship expert.  

"But capitalism exploits the worker."  I'll take my chances, because when you get a taste of the money but no access to the capital, you are easily seduced by Globalism-- the brand, not the particulars.  Hence the Hollywood stars, hence Buffett's grandson, hence Randi Zuckerberg, all who act like they belong there.  They do.

Every time you hear the word globalism, you should hear three things: 1. wealth uncoupled from work product.  2. Lifestyle as a reflection of your personal self-worth.  3. You give up control of the capital, and by capital I mean you.    "Do I still get paid?"  Sure, but you have to promise to spend more than what we pay.  "How will that work?"  Don't worry, Visa will explain it all to you.

IX.

It is no coincidence that social media, "everything is connected" (the default is plugged), is a vivid metaphor for globalism, even as so many social media vaginalists think they are against globalism if it is defined as Wall Street.   Propaganda doesn't care about your motivations, so long as you act in the required direction.

When social media is branded to men as a positive, the gimmick is that it magnifies their power,  e.g. "the hive mind."  This brand is reinforced even when it is depicted as bad, e.g. men's increased power to stalk, harass, or bully people.  On the other hand, when social media is branded to women with interests and passions but no math skills it's for "finding support" or "community"; nothing powerful is expected to occur there, it's a place to feel safe, "connect" and "have a conversation."  Those are not accidents, and they have nothing to do with biology, they are the result of market research and 50 years of very, very bad parenting.

But my generation came of age in a world with social networks... we understand that the business leaders of the future will be three-dimensional­ personalities whose lives, interests, hobbies and passions outside of work are documented and on display.
We should embrace this new world. The answer isn't fewer baby pictures; it's more baby pictures. It's not that I should post less; it's that everyone else should post more.
Let's change what it means to be professional in the Internet age. The time when your personal identity was a secret to your colleagues is over and done.  And that is a good thing.

This is a woman who hates everything.  I know that seems unbelievable given that she adorbs baby pics and is always shown smiling in lipstick three shades too bright for her hematocrit, but don't be fooled, her hate is transmogrified by money and fame and class buffers so it doesn't action the same way it does for Al Qaeda, but if she had a commercial pilot's license she would hit you with it.

Think seriously about what she (thinks she) wants:  acceptance of her individuality-- by work.  Not for her work product-- there is none; but for her individuality, by work. 
First question: which work?  Not the job you have, it's real, and it's boring.  It is a future "career", the fantasy environment seen on TV dramas where all of life takes place.
Second question: why work?  Men are not being taught to want their job to value them, in fact, men want as little to do with their jobs as possible.  Randi and the globalism party bus are teaching women to want "careers"-- more precisely, to want to draw more of their identity from their careers.  The perk of taking your work home with you isn't more money, it's acceptance of your individuality.  Also you get to have to shop at Ann Taylor.  Before you seize on this as a biological flaw in women's character, let me remind you that they want work to accept their individuality because their family and relationships have failed them in this regard.  The only place they feel... happy?-- is when they are at work or plugged in.  "I know The Bachelor is mindless TV, but I just like it."  Keeps your husband out of the room, anyway.  How great is it to be alone?
Third question: what are the consequences of Randi's utopian fantasy of your job valuing you as an individual for everyone else at work?
She believes her authentic self, via Facebook, should be accepted everywhere, home and work, so the suits should just shut their greed vacuums and embrace her baby pictures, her individuality-- after all, that's why they hired her, right? 
That sounds laudable-- except that she's lying.  Ok, I have to pretend not to be sickened by her baby pictures, will she Like me live-posting My Summertime Threesomes?  Huh.  So now individuality has an asterisk: since Facebook should be on at work, everyone's Facebook should be nonthreatening, not mean, safe-- work appropriate
"Well, stupid, just don't put naked pics on Facebook."  Fair enough, but whereas before it was my poorly thought out choice, now it is not allowed by work.
"Well, Facebook shouldn't be on at work."  Duh, of course it won't be on at work, no company would allow Facebook to be on at work, there's work to be done.   So "ok at work" really means "if work saw it" and "Facebook" really means "the internet."
"Well don't put naked pics--" You're focused on the wrong side of the equation.  Why should I be careful of my internet behavior?  It's not because it can hurt me, it's because it can hurt the company.  What Randi doesn't realize she was used to say is that your internet life better be work acceptable since there's much more at stake there than at home. 
If threesomes are't your thing, try a 2nd Amendment Fan Page or 10 Things I Hate About Senators and see if your job supports your individuality.  See how close to the edge you can get before Facebook itself censors you.  It is tempting to see this as a "war on men" because Randi tests as a genetic female, or a war on conservatives because Randi sounds like a "capitalism with a human face"-progressive who ran pass interference for the DNC in 2008, but I hope you can see that the force would equally oppose anything that was slightly outside of the mainstream.  Randi needs the job to tell her she is valuable, and the job wants frictionless employees.  The war isn't on men or women, it is on individual freedom, it is regression to the mean by suppressing the mean, where mean is defined by its deviation from SFW, according to W. 
Since work has encroached on your home life at your request, since you've conflated plugged/unplugged with work/home, then
"The time when your personal identity is a secret to your colleagues is over and done.  And that's a good thing."  
It's good for the company, anyway.  You may be surprised to discover that the more replaceable you are to the company, the higher standards you are held to, that's what happens when you don't control the capital.  Rather than fostering individuality and creativity, Randi is telling the organ donors to sanitize their internet presence so that it doesn't affect the people who are profiting from your work.  Consolation is you get to post your baby pics and work has to accept it.
X.
In the absence of a big payday, the only things left that can value us are the job, and the media.   Regularly someone says something "offensive" in the media and the media punishes or fires him, and we debate whether that was justified or not.  The debate entirely avoids the most important point: the media company punished the guy in media.  They could have fired him privately, the way you would have gotten fired from your job if you started YZing all your coworkers.  Not only do they publicly fire him, they force the guy to make a public apology first-- and then fire him anyway.   Who benefits?   The offended victim?

But as much as we say we hate their power to judge us, we want them to have this power-- who else is going to have it?  If they have this much power to destroy a person, then how much more significant is a RT?  How great would it be if they acknowledged my worth?  With no power, what other chance do I have?  In the fantastical words of Marshall McLuhan, "there is no sweeter praise than the gaze of a tyrant, especially if it's in HD."  
This is what we want judging us, this is the calendar we're using.  Something external that can value us at 1999 levels while the real world is pricing us at 2008 levels.  My face is in my hands and I wonder how anyone could be asked to raise a girl in such a world?  Recently a female cardiologist with a "difficult" 10 year old daughter who had been well trained to want things but not control things asked me if I had read "the study in the New York Times"-- !?!?!?!?!?-- that said that people with the same surname, over generations, continued to achieve the same level of wealth, showing "therefore" that genetic factors were more important than the home environment in determining social mobility, isn't that probably true?  Having to do this sober I asked her, "But didn't you change your surname 11 years ago?  Or are you betting she can just upgrade hers?"  What else could I say?  If you read it, it's for you?






Comments

And I was in your last arti... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 6:17 PM | Posted by Rajun008: | Reply

And I was in your last article complaining about the lack of updates....was just about to comment back on someone. Feel really stupid about it now.

Great article, Alone!

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Do you see the humour now? ... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 6:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Rajun008's comment, by Sophistophile: | Reply

Do you see the humour now? ;)

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you, fofoa, slate star code... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 6:56 PM | Posted by tat: | Reply

you, fofoa, slate star codex... fuck me the internet is getting awesome...

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TLP reading your stuff make... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 7:12 PM | Posted by Lauren: | Reply

TLP reading your stuff makes me want to drink. I find myself suppressing bits of your articles as I go through my day so I don't run screaming into the woods.

At least I'm in good company.

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Nice... I'll read it again ... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 7:35 PM | Posted by someWittyName: | Reply

Nice... I'll read it again later, but I think I learned more in this one article than i've learned in reading dozens of your other ones.

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💪... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 7:36 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

💪

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So what you're saying, firs... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 7:55 PM | Posted by JohnJ: | Reply

So what you're saying, first, is that the system promotes people like Zuckerberg for much the same reason that casinos promote winners: to create a black swan for people to chase. That much I get.

But you're also saying that we want the system to do this for us; we just want plausible deniability. We want Zuckerberg feted because we want to believe that we'll someday be feted despite our not deserving it. We want it to be random because we all want to believe we have a chance, and we feel that randomness is our best chance? We're all hoping that our hidden virtue will revealed through social media because we don't know how to stand out any other way?

So social media sucks our lives away by feeding us the dream that we could be the next big winner. Therefore people on social media tend to be the kind of people who don't have other hopes, because if they had other hopes, they'd be out pursuing those instead of at home on Facebook.

But the bigger system encourages us to give up our hopes and dreams for social media because that makes us better producers for the system. The system uses social media to control us.

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New reader. Thanks for taki... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 8:10 PM | Posted by ThickAsThieves: | Reply

New reader. Thanks for taking the time to be a photo-realistic artist and for sharing.

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Not a bear in sight. The Be... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 8:18 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a
charm.

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"When Business was henpecke... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 8:45 PM | Posted by TheCopiedWriter: | Reply

"When Business was henpecked into supporting the iphone, Blackberry went sadly into menopause and defiantly into Africa. Plausible deniability requires that I do not explain how layered a joke that is. "

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Agreed... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 10:22 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Agreed

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I wrote an anon message nea... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 10:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I wrote an anon message near the end of the last thread about how I am a narcissist who is finally getting what TLP is saying. And now I read this -

I am literally the person fantasizing about myself BEING INTERVIEWED about how I got rich trading from home, rather than actually trading. It's funny because I've been thinking about this recently and have walked around in a daze imagining the interviews and all that but of course not actually bothered to sit down and start doing some reading.

OK - so i'm donating when I get some money (not much cos i'm poor) whether you answer this or not - but is it possible to make money from trading and that sort of thing? I mean, if I put in the long hours, learn from people who aren't con artists, be very careful and only play with very small amounts initially - is it possible for the average person to make any kind of money this (or any other) way?

I ask because there are zero jobs in my town that I could apply for (not in the USA) and although we have a functioning welfare system, my options are not that great. I do plan on getting an education, but what I'm after atm is a way to learn some sort of money making skill to tide me over until I get a job.

If TLP or anyone else has any input it would be appreciated. Thanks.

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<a href="https://medium.com... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 11:51 PM | Posted by e1373868@drdrb.com: | Reply

https://medium.com/matter/94d214257b5

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Yes, it is possible to make... (Below threshold)

March 1, 2014 11:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Pirate Trader: | Reply

Yes, it is possible to make money trading, but it's very difficult. Only 10% of traders really make money. Short-term trading (e.g., less than a year) is also a zero-sum game; it's actually a less than zero sum game because you have to factor in broker fees.

It's really like anything else in life - most people are dead average or worse, some are a bit above average, and a few are stars. You do not get a trophy for showing up in trading, and if you are average you will actually lose money. That's the main difference between an office job and trading for a living - you can be average in an office job and you usually won't get fired (or at least you'll be able to make money). In trading that's not the case.

Start very small (or even better, use a fake $ account). Develop a methodology that has systematic and discretionary aspects. Use consistent position sizing and risk management. Test your methodology. Once you generate alpha, use real money - if you don't, you're really just gambling.

It is not easy and the probabilities say you will fail. Successful trading requires that you do the opposite of what your emotions are telling you to do. You have to be the kid that waits an hour to get 2 cookies instead of the one that eats it right away.

The fact that I'm talking about trading strategy on a blog makes me very concerned. Don't get me wrong, I will ride this bubble as far as it goes (I'm guessing for about another year and a half), but am concerned for the people who think they are geniuses when the entire market was up 30%+ last year.

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"My face is in my hands and... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 3:30 AM | Posted by T-: | Reply

"My face is in my hands and I wonder how anyone could be asked to raise a girl in such a world? "

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*insert crying emoticon und... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 3:33 AM | Posted, in reply to T-'s comment, by T-: | Reply

*insert crying emoticon under above quote*

note to self: less drinky when typey

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Read your link.I'm g... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 5:47 AM | Posted, in reply to e1373868@drdrb.com's comment, by TheCopiedWriter: | Reply

Read your link.
I'm glad I read your link.
You're a good banana.

People: read the link.

Also, can/does admin edit posts before approving them?

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That was an interesting lin... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 7:01 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

That was an interesting link, to me the most needed aspect of that is that the idea that self esteem needs to come from actions that make you valuable to others, not just "feeling esteem" within yourself which is a sort of nuts concept. Give yourself a hug! No really! Useless. Self love doesn't generate the sense of well being because that's NOT what human's need. If all you have is your love for yourself you're fucked because human's who don't like are cruel, and apathy and indifference from people around you leads you to lacking the resources you need to live in times of crisis. People NEED each other and they need to behave in a positive way towards each other. And when that is all working right, it feels good. Behave well, people like you, get positive feedback from others, feel good inside.

That's how to build self esteem. But I don't think one has to see humans as insignificant slugs to get that concept. You really can see every human as precious and still see the process of building self esteem as one of right action and positive behaviors towards others. To be perfectly honest, teaching people that if they mess up or can't achieve much they are shit is not a necessary aspect of countering narcissism which is INFLATED self esteem that exists for no reason (a sense of superiority that is not built on actually doing good for others). But many of the people you do good for might be "nobodies", that doesn't make them worthless, people without much skill can still do good to others with what skills they have. I think the idea that the counter to narcissism is seeing people as innately worthless unless they prove themselves with work skills is also very dangerous and responsible for many social ills.

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To Alone, RE about why Face... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 10:10 AM | Posted by HellofromTheSouth: | Reply

To Alone, RE about why Facebook bought Whatsapp:

I understand Whatsapp isn't that big of a dealin the States, but here in Latin America is is HUGE and everybody with a phone uses it (the rationale is "Free text messages!!!", so everybody gets really annoying with it). From what I have heard it is the same thing in Europe, where Whatsapp beats Facebook Messenger.

tldr: Facebook bought Whatsapp so they pretty much have a monopoly over text messages over the internet.

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I think she gets to be the ... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 11:21 AM | Posted by Belinda: | Reply

I think she gets to be the public buffoon, so her brother can live his life. She's Billy Carter without the beer cans.

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> Having to do this sober I... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 11:39 AM | Posted by gwern: | Reply

> Having to do this sober I asked her, "But didn't you change your surname 11 years ago? Or are you betting she can just upgrade hers?"

Assortative mating.

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Your work is brilliant and ... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 11:40 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Your work is brilliant and I love it, which means either you are brilliant or extremely hard working or both. In any event I can only imagine how much time it takes to write what you write but you MUST post more often :) I am left bereft when I continually check out your site and womp womp nothing new.

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Quality over quantity, frie... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 12:50 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Billy The Kid: | Reply

Quality over quantity, friend. Remember what happened when the news went from once a week to every night to 24/7.

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Are you sure you're reading... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 3:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Are you sure you're reading this blog carefully?

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Your articles are like gett... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 6:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Your articles are like getting punched in the face. Please never stop writing them.

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"The blog is really, aft... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 7:08 PM | Posted by cmoney: | Reply

"The blog is really, after all, about communism."

Boom.

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I screwed up the hyperlink:... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 7:10 PM | Posted, in reply to cmoney's comment, by cmoney: | Reply

I screwed up the hyperlink: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2008/05/my_daughter_deserved_to_die_fo.html#comment-1833

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You have to admit that some... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 8:04 PM | Posted, in reply to cmoney's comment, by HellofromTheSouth: | Reply

You have to admit that some of the ideas of Marx are spot on (not necessarily the conclusions). i.e. : Owning the means of production is key, and pretty much the only thing that matters power-wise.

From that you can either become a capitalist (that is, own the means of production) and be part of the class that controls the system, be a communist and try to (unsuccesfully) fight it or be an organ donor who is just part of the herd.

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Like, who the fuck cares ab... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 8:05 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Like, who the fuck cares about Randi Zuckerberg, scoob? By focusing on this nonsense you legitimise it. We don't spend time deconstructing neo-Nazism or Miley Cyrus because nobody serious takes them seriously to begin with. Her campaign is petty; just ignore it.

How about something positive, for that matter?

Sure, fire is useful for burning, but ultimately its purpose is to provide warmth, energy, and light. More light.

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<a href="http://www.lacanon... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 8:12 PM | Posted, in reply to cmoney's comment, by Glen: | Reply

Money and Psychoanalysis [Lacan]

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cont.Yah, I know, ... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 8:16 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

cont.

Yah, I know, "it's not about her, it's about us". You mean people are stupid, superficial, and conformist? What's new? Corporations are greed and have too much power? And?

What are you going to do about it? Write another article? Drink more? What are we going to do about it? Read another article? Drink? That'll show 'em.

Where's the escape hatch?

I propose the real challenges/problems are nor Randi Zuckerberg or corporations. They're just wasting your time. They are distrations. The real challenge is how the fuck are you going to survive when this whole facade collapses and the lights go out?

Put the bottle down, turn the TV off (better yet, throw it away), and buck the fuck up. Aim high; dress warm; have faith.

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What I particularly enjoy f... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 8:31 PM | Posted, in reply to Glen's comment, by Glen: | Reply

What I particularly enjoy from my link above:

An analysand in Lacan’s practice became convinced that he needed, at whatever cost, to obtain a diploma to become a doctor or a psychiatrist. In the next academic year, he enrols himself in to the first year of medical studies. He tells Lacan about this and Lacan doubles the price of the session on the spot. This made it materially impossible for the analysand to continue his studies (story related in Jean Allouch’s Les Impromptus de Lacan, EPEL, 1998, p.81)

From the link provided by 'cmoney' ("Alone's response"):

...Stop thinking about psychiatry as a medical concern, and more as a semiotic problem, and stop thinking about money in utilitarian terms, but as a proxy for identity...

Again from Lacan online, (author stated only as "admin"):

Leaving aside the possibility that Lacan’s motivation here was for his own financial gain, might he have been trying to get his analysand to bring into question the ideal he had created for himself by generating, through the doubling of the fee, the impossibility of sustaining both an analysis and his medical studies? Impossibility, lack, sacrifice: these are the hallmarks of castration

And so on. Thanks for pointing to that blurb, cmoney!

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There is no escape hatch. <... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 8:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Glen: | Reply

There is no escape hatch.

Also, there is no spoon.

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Excellent addition to this ... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 9:40 PM | Posted, in reply to e1373868@drdrb.com's comment, by Backslide: | Reply

Excellent addition to this great post!

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I read the Matter article w... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 10:24 PM | Posted, in reply to e1373868@drdrb.com's comment, by Quiznos Bharnard: | Reply

I read the Matter article when it came out, and thought about TLP while doing so, particularly the chart near the end of this article (and hell, the whole rest of the article): http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/08/this_is_why_the_american_dream.html

However, the article also does a thing that Alone is rallying against in his last two posts: in appearing to debate conclusions, it's tricking you into accepting the form of the argument. That self-esteem is good, as long as it's the right kind of esteem. That self-esteem is a thing that can be measured independently of other things. That narcissism is simply an over-abundance of self-esteem.

Just something for everyone to think about when they read it.

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Huzzah! The Monday mentione... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 10:52 PM | Posted by JW Katadreuffe: | Reply

Huzzah! The Monday mentioned at the end of the last post has arrived.

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I've never read Marx. You m... (Below threshold)

March 2, 2014 11:40 PM | Posted, in reply to HellofromTheSouth's comment, by cmoney: | Reply

I've never read Marx. You may be correct.

From that you can either become a capitalist (that is, own the means of production) and be part of the class that controls the system,

This doesn't quite define a capitalist. An employee can be a capitalist.

be a communist and try to (unsuccesfully) fight it

Sure, but again, an employee/worker/whatever need not be a communist, or even a liberal, to "fight the system."

or be an organ donor who is just part of the herd.

And here's the real crux. This is where we're headed (where we're at), and this is basically communism. Maybe not by true definition, but what it means in real life for the workers living in it. I know this is a stretch but you see my point, I hope.

TLP likes to call it feudalism, and I suppose that is more accurate. We are simultaneously having the wool pulled over eyes while we ourselves squeeze our eyes tightly. Because freedom is fucking scary. Better to just go to work, pay your taxes, get paid what you're worth, just please let me have a decent place, an internet connection, and a netflix account.

Re: paid what you're worth. New college grad in say engineering comes out making 50-75k, but they have no clue as to WHY that is what they're paid, what the value of that money actually is (though they quickly find out they only actually make ~60% of that number), but at the ripe old age of 22 it's a fixed number, and there's no going back. How are they ever supposed to learn what they're worth?

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<a href="http://educ.jmu.ed... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 5:05 AM | Posted, in reply to Glen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

http://educ.jmu.edu//~omearawm/ph101willtobelieve.html

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It shows you haven't read M... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 9:07 AM | Posted, in reply to cmoney's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

It shows you haven't read Marx. I recommend it, too. You don't have to accept the conclusions (and perhaps you shouldn't), but it is an educational read. Furthermore: once again you'll see how easy it is distort the meaning of someone's works and make those who haven't read them believe in the distortion.

But back to topic: in Marx's meaning of "capitalist" a worker/employee couldn't be a capitalist back then, heck! they can't be capitalists even now. You either are the capitalist (you own the means of production or soil and you live off them) or you are employed by the capitalist.

Quote: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/capital.htm#1



What does one acquire with capital, with the inheritance of a large fortune, for instance?



“The person who [either acquires, or] succeeds to a great fortune, does not necessarily [acquire or] succeed to any political power [.... ] The power which that possession immediately and directly conveys to him, is the power of purchasing; a certain command over all the labour, or over all the produce of labour, which is then in the market.” (Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, Vol. I, pp. 26-27.)[10]

Capital is thus the governing power over labour and its products. The capitalist possesses this power, not on account of his personal or human qualities, but inasmuch as he is an owner of capital. His power is the purchasing power of his capital, which nothing can withstand.

Later we shall see first how the capitalist, by means of capital, exercises his governing power over labour, then, however, we shall see the governing power of capital over the capitalist himself.

“A certain quantity of labour stocked and stored up to be employed.” (Adam Smith, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 295.)
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The blockquotes didn't clos... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 9:11 AM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

The blockquotes didn't close properly. It should have read:

What is the basis of capital, that is, of private property in the products of other men's labour?
“Even if capital itself does not merely amount to theft or fraud, it still requires the cooperation of legislation to sanctify inheritance.” (Say, Traité d'économie politique.)[9]

How does one become a proprietor of productive stock? How does one become owner of the products created by means of this stock?

By virtue of positive law. (Say, t. II, p. 4.)

What does one acquire with capital, with the inheritance of a large fortune, for instance?

“The person who [either acquires, or] succeeds to a great fortune, does not necessarily [acquire or] succeed to any political power [.... ] The power which that possession immediately and directly conveys to him, is the power of purchasing; a certain command over all the labour, or over all the produce of labour, which is then in the market.” (Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, Vol. I, pp. 26-27.)[10]

Capital is thus the governing power over labour and its products. The capitalist possesses this power, not on account of his personal or human qualities, but inasmuch as he is an owner of capital. His power is the purchasing power of his capital, which nothing can withstand.

Later we shall see first how the capitalist, by means of capital, exercises his governing power over labour, then, however, we shall see the governing power of capital over the capitalist himself.

What is capital?

“A certain quantity of labour stocked and stored up to be employed.” (Adam Smith, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 295.)

Capital is stored-up labour.

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How do you implement block ... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 9:13 AM | Posted by Dudley: | Reply

How do you implement block quotes anyway?

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<blockquote>Qu... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 9:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Dudley's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

<blockquote>
Quote
<⁄blockquote>

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Alone, thank you for writin... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 10:47 AM | Posted by IIIMeMeMe: | Reply

Alone, thank you for writing this. It´s always interesting to read what you have to say, though you do seem increasingly fearful. No worries if you ought to do something, you can. The picture of Ms. Zuckerberg at the top is a little sad. She looks so alone and awkward.

Did you intentionally use nouns as verbs throughout this piece? It got to the point where it was a bit distracting, then annoying, then it seemed like it must have been intentional. The most jarring example was "her hate is transmogrified by money and fame and class buffers so it doesn't action the same way it does for Al Qaeda" which might have been written, "... doesn´t act in the same way..." But you didn´t write that.

In trying to focus on the words, it seemed you might have been trying to highlight the duckspeak of Ms. Zuckerberg or something, or like, bring attention to the idea that it may be a good idea for your readers to describe themselves (ourselves) without using "am"? But that seemed like it may be over-thinking things.

Anyway, have a good day.

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It shows you haven... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 11:07 AM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by cmoney: | Reply

It shows you haven't read Marx. I recommend it, too. You don't have to accept the conclusions (and perhaps you shouldn't), but it is an educational read. Furthermore: once again you'll see how easy it is distort the meaning of someone's works and make those who haven't read them believe in the distortion.

To be clear, I'm aware of Marx's definition of a capitalist, I simply wasn't using it. I'm not making an argument against Marxism. I will put it on my to-read list, though.

If it makes it clearer, an employee can be a "believer in capitalism" as it applies to the current day. Under the American Dream style of capitalism, even if you don't own _the_ capital, you own your capital: your work, your creativity, your work ethic, and you do with it as you see fit. You get to choose what to pursue, how to pursue it, how much to pursue, etc etc. I'm aware I don't own Android, but if google wants to hire me to fix it, I get to say for how much. I'm allowed to negotiate the cost of my human capital.

That is what's being eroded, for us, by us. Whether the end result is communism or feudalism or ___ doesn't really matter. It's a less free world.

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Of course I do agree with y... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 12:18 PM | Posted, in reply to cmoney's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

Of course I do agree with you -- and, by the way, so did Marx. As far as I can tell (I haven't finished what I linked to yet) he didn't really create new definitions. The one you use and he used is the Smithsonian one, which he quotes:

What is capital?
“A certain quantity of labour stocked and stored up to be employed.” (Adam Smith, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 295.)
Capital is stored-up labour.

Of course, at the same time you cannot accumulate your own labor in the manner that a real capitalist have accumulated the labor of others (i.e. hard money). Without having an employer, you don't really know what kind of labor you've to accumulate, so that you can sell it later. Still, should you choose one and focus on accumulating it, you are creating a product and so you are closer to an entrepreneur than a worker (but still a worker of some kind, as the guy from E-myth believes and unfortunately he might be right).

--- And I do not know where I'm going with this, so I'll just stop. Let's get back to the topic. ---

Still, what I think that HelloFromTheSouth meant (because that's where our discussion really started) and what Marx points out (and Alone) is that until you choose your pill, you'll remain powerless. Of course, you can make the decision whether you want to work there or not, but you will always be doing what THEY want you to do. There are two ways to opt out: become a communist (I'm not sure what definition of communism HelloFromTheSouth meant, but I guess it means simply more worky-worky and less consumey-consumey and more ready-ready and more thinky-thinky, in the simplest words and terms) or become a capitalist yourself -- the real one, that has capital and become part of the class that controls system.

Should you choose neither -- you're just a part of the herd.

Again, that's not necessarily what I believe in, but should you have any arguments against this point of view, I will do my best to respond to them. It might be a very exhilarating and educating discussion.


To clarify: I don't know what I believe in, yet; it's just this notion that someone is screwing me over by making me believe that I am actually in power (yes, I don't think I am). Guess that Marx is a good starting point.

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The way I see it is that pe... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 3:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The way I see it is that people like Randi Zuckerberg can act as access points to something larger. Analyzing how these people are used in media gives us insight into the nature of the system of wants. It may appear on the surface to "legitimize" them, but in a way it really humanizes them in the sense that it separates them from the truth-giving media image that they're usually represented by and explores why they are being used in this way in the first place. More of a deconstruction than an affirmation.

I don't think it's fair to boil these articles down to their positivity/negativity. That's a very limited scope. But you're right to suspect that there is a risk of impotence in the relationship between the readers and the blogger. The risk being that we come to this site and Alone may have posted an article and then we read it, feel good about ourselves (because we've got what we wanted) and the cycle repeats itself with no change in our real lives. But I think many readers do read these articles and then begin to think about the way they relate to other people and in a way recognize their own subjectivity in situations where they might have previously blamed other people. It's a hard thing to talk about. We don't know this writer, only his ideas. And we presumably find something of worth in them. But we cannot treat this blog like a television show. "More episodes!" There is more than enough material on this site. Coming here is now more a matter of play than work. If you want to act, nobody is stopping you.

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He probably won't respond, ... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 3:25 PM | Posted, in reply to IIIMeMeMe's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

He probably won't respond, but he might be or might not be, really.

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You're such a genius. But ... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 3:46 PM | Posted by Chris: | Reply

You're such a genius. But to what extent do you think the universal narcissism you talk about is actually a psychopathology, and to what extent do you think humans are naturally programmed to aspire to the highest rank in their society, and our disorder simply comes from the fact that we're exposed to people who are absurdly, incongruously wealthy and successful? 10,000 years ago, I could have seen the tribal chieftain and said "some day I will kill him and rule." Today I see warren buffet on CNBC. Where is the insanity, within or without?

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Capital without competition... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 4:10 PM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by alaska3636: | Reply

Capital without competition has been the historical problem for mankind. The question: How do some people build capital and then seclude themselves from the competition of a free marketplace? The answer: The physical and abstract force of a State. What most people consider the effects of capitalism are the effects of mercantilism or outright despotism. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Incentives matter and humans exhibit a range of preferences and skills. Once power is removed from the individual grievance consequences and perverse incentives ensue. I don't know how to fix this; humanity seems to limp along in spite of it; but I think decentralization is a safe bet; and personal responsibility...

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Interesting language coroll... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 4:16 PM | Posted by tahrirvoyeur: | Reply

Interesting language corollary: I used to watch a lot of Dr. Phil back when he was the new afternoon TV super-star (~1999-2003). I recall the language he would use when therapizin' uninvolved, overworked breadwinner FATHERS was that they needed to "plug back in" at home. It only took 10-15 years to reverse the linguistic and gender polarity.

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Alot of the complaints TLP ... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 8:19 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alot of the complaints TLP has are in this book Fraud in Mental health by the therapist-I found on accident. Ya all gots to read it. Whistle blower is goin cray cray with the inside dope and it aint pretty.
My friend is highly sensitive to trneds and she shut down her FB page. It's over.
As for texh. rich- actors, singers used to be a notch above whores. After radio, Tv cable they are royalty- and now so are reality stars. Tach is speeding up and it's all the same. Who cares? I'm having a blast!

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And I intend to act, when t... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 10:31 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

And I intend to act, when the time calls for it.

I'd just appreciate, from someone with his insight and reach, better preparation for the challenges to come.

The way I see it, writing articles denouncing Randi Zuckerberg or the somnambulists she appeals to is like launching cannonballs on the Titanic post-iceberg.

All that for what?

"Alas, were thy six-and-thirty quartos, and the six-and-thirty thousand other quartos and folios, and flying sheets or reams, printed before and since on the same subject, all needed to convince us of so little! But what next? Wilt thou help us to embody the divine Spirit of that Religion in a new Mythus, in a new vehicle and vesture, that our Souls, otherwise too like perishing, may live? What! thou hast no faculty in that kind? Only a torch for burning, no hammer for building? Take our thanks, then, and—thyself away."

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There are two way... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 10:39 PM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

There are two ways to opt out: become a communist (I'm not sure what definition of communism HelloFromTheSouth meant, but I guess it means simply more worky-worky and less consumey-consumey and more ready-ready and more thinky-thinky, in the simplest words and terms)
I agree with your definition and would like to expand it with some information regarding groups of people that went a bit beyond that.

It is open for debate how communist can a person be while living in a capitalist society. The closest thing I can get as examples of workers sharing the control of the means of production are:

*Fabricas Recuperadas: companies that filled for bankrupcy and were re-opened by their former employees. Sometimes they are succesful and sometimes they are not. At first they were fought by the government but they gained a bit of acceptance since people have somewhere to work thanks to them. The jury is still out on whether self-management is a viable form of Business management.


More info at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers%27_self-management#The_f.C3.A1bricas_recuperadas_movement

Worker Cooperatives: basically a company owned and managed by all or most of their employees, who are considered partners and have a say on how the organization is run (in the ones I personally know, they usually do it by electing the company's board of directors).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worker_cooperative


Summing it up, the above are examples of workers owning the means of production. It is not the path I have chosen (I went towards capitalism) but I believe that they are valid ways to have collective ownership of the means of production while living in a capitalist society.

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What's a distration?... (Below threshold)

March 3, 2014 11:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by djcocksmith: | Reply

What's a distration?

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I don't want to be nitpicki... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 12:44 AM | Posted, in reply to alaska3636's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

I don't want to be nitpicking, but I don't think that "I don't know" and "is a safe bet" should fit in one sentence.

I don't have anything insightful to add, though.

Maybe just that:
I checked out this Medium site and there was this article. I didn't really read it through, only skimmed through and it seems to be a nice example illustrating (backing) what Orwell has observed in the beginning of 20th century -- that in order for the workers to be able to revolt they need to open their minds, and in order to open their minds they need to revolt first. It's a vicious circle and again I am not sure that this is the way to go, just saying.

And there is another lesson to be learned -- nowadays it's the mentality that makes one a worker, not the income level and certainly not so-called education/intelligence or skills. Skills can be acquired thanks to intelligence and (again -- nowadays) rather despite education (-al system) and get along really well with one's worker mentality.

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Yes, you did think that. Bu... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 12:54 AM | Posted, in reply to Chris's comment, by vernondudley: | Reply

Yes, you did think that. But didn't watch him and the other "leaders" 24/7 while masturbating, not even caring to use handkerchief and/or at least wipe and preferably wash your hands once in a while.

And in neither case can you be happy.

Of course, you didn't have enough time back then to do it, there was a mammoth to be killed, after all. So sure, you might call calling this "narcissism" and ranting against it an exaggeration having no proof and do nothing about it; or you can do the opposite.

As I see it, it's always just a little bit too easy to simply say that people are stupid and that's that.

I know I totally missed the point. It doesn't really answer your question about where this comes from -- is it psychopathology or simply how people work. But I guess that's not even philosophy, but rather hearsay.

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Alone's writing is profound... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 7:30 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone's writing is profoundly antinatalist, but I would venture to guess that at least half of the people commenting on this blog every month, perpetually missing the point, have children.

And so once again the board resets...

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Profoundly antinatalist? Th... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 8:00 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Profoundly antinatalist? That sounds like a case of seeing what you want to see. There are several posts on here about parenting/raising kids.

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>That sounds like a case of... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 8:30 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>That sounds like a case of seeing what you want to see.

Or maybe you're not reading close enough.

>There are several posts on here about parenting/raising kids.

...the kids you already had. If you've already conceived there's really no other choice but to try and raise them the best you can.

And the entries you're referring to aren't so much about how to raise your children correctly as they are a commentary on the myriad ways in which people do it wrong.

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For that to be true, they w... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 8:34 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

For that to be true, they would have to be fairly new parents who read a post here and then went on to kids. I doubt there are many who fit that description.

As Anon 8:00 AM suggests, the early articles in particular are more about what NOT to do to your kids, ie. inconsistent parenting leading to the first principle of "right and wrong is decided by whoever has the most power" and that worrying about whether you're seen as a "good parent" at the expense of actually doing so the results in the exact opposite.

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Or maybe you're no... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 11:58 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Or maybe you're not reading close enough.

That's possible. How do you figure these posts are antinatalist?

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> is premised on starting a... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 12:02 PM | Posted by Tom P: | Reply

> is premised on starting a business in order to sell the business to someone else. Of course the idea is to get rich-- which sounds like capitalism, if you're retarded, but observe the message that is being taught: that the necessary correlate to getting rich is to give all the capital to someone else. The power is traded for the fetish of power.

In software, this happens because it's the most efficient way to retire as soon as possible. As an app developer I can make the app and market it and sell it myself and run a company, or I can sell it for $19B for it and the rest of my family can tweet pictures of their cat for the rest of time.

The world you described a couple years back where "we can't keep paying computer programmers $90k/year" is gone. There aren't enough of us to staff everything... so if any one of us makes something useful, it will be purchased, because it's cheaper than paying a staff team to do it. I disagree that it isn't capitalism... it's still just making and selling a product, it just can often be done by one person with a $150k investment from an investor.

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For lack of a better way to... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 2:05 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

For lack of a better way to get in touch with TLP, I'm putting this here...

This article made me immediately think of this place, and thought he/she might like to take a look:

Your Kid is a Little Asshole - And guess what: it’s all your fault

I was fascinated both by the dysfunction on display by all parties, including (especially) the author, as well as the determination of the article to ignore it in all but two subjects.

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I love TLP. One of the only... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 2:27 PM | Posted by Shiva: | Reply

I love TLP. One of the only people I know in touch with reality. I gasp when reading TLP because of the surprise that I was fooled.

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The funny thing about all o... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 3:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

The funny thing about all of the Medium articles is: they are simply unreadable. This is pop-blog gone horribly wrong. Still, it's a great place to reflect upon how it's always that we reflect upon the totally wrong thing. Oh, and narcissism.

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I had never heard of the si... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 4:15 PM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I had never heard of the site before, and now I wish I could remember how I wound up there, it might tell me something about myself...

It is instructive to read an article like that, and closely monitor your own reactions to the words, as well as the lies you tell yourself while you try to figure out why you have those reactions.

If nothing else, this site (TLP, that is) has been instructive in how frequently and blatantly I lie to myself, especially when attempting to be reflective or insightful.

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Jesus, I struggled to finis... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 4:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Jesus, I struggled to finish that article. It reads exactly like something you'd find on Gawker or Jezebel, in that it's terribly written, vindictively biased, conveys no useful information, and serves no other purpose than to already be agreed with before it's even read.

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You are made of stronger st... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 9:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You are made of stronger stuff than me. I only made it as far as the painful "Blackberry went sadly into menopause and defiantly..." haw haw haw.

"sadly... defiantly" - this is the "tell" of terrible writing. The whole thing should be about 1/16th the length it is. If you subtracted the self-congratulatory, "I luuuv the sound of my own voice" windbaggery I'm not sure it would be even that long.

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The best part about this ar... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 9:52 PM | Posted by Matthew Cupples: | Reply

The best part about this article was near the end when I saw the Facebook "like" button.

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Great point! I lov... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 10:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Great point!

I love TLP, but I also value positive ideas, those which destroy dark and petty things by simply being bigger and more important in and of themselves. Sometimes it's harder to see light though, and it is harder yet to describe.

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If I read this, it's for me... (Below threshold)

March 4, 2014 11:53 PM | Posted by Jane: | Reply

If I read this, it's for me.

I'm going through the process of legally changing my name, because my father is a narcissist and I am not his property.

Also, I'm never having kids, because I find the prospect of keeping them away from drugs and pedophiles (and facebook) too overwhelming.

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Not one? Not ONE person co... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 12:22 AM | Posted by Joe: | Reply

Not one? Not ONE person commenting on what good joke the "into Africa?" joke is? It's in the first paragraph! I almost spit my drink! It's not a racist joke you pansies! I'll admit, there's a great deal about this post, and the idea therein, that grate on me (I'm still hashing it all out for myself), but has no one seen that movie? Do we still HAVE a common cultural... fuck it, do we still have a common culture? I'm 34. I've seen it.

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What are semantics? Do you... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 2:38 AM | Posted, in reply to djcocksmith's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

What are semantics? Do you have anything of substance to add?

No? Then you are a distration. Fuck off.

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"but what I'm after atm is... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 4:05 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by jon redcornmf: | Reply

"but what I'm after atm is a way to learn some sort of money making skill to tide me over until I get a job."
Have you ever considered stand-up comedy?

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Please, take no offense, no... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 5:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

Please, take no offense, non was intended. I see why you've read and linked to that article, I was only reflecting upon the horrible writing skills that authors there have.

I have linked here another Medium article and it was so awfully written, even if it was important I would have difficulty to read it. And in the article you linked to -- come on, numeration? really? have the author of the article ever read anything else than a blog post? "Here are 8 reasons why I think this girl is a bitch, and I will call her a bitch, because even though she is 9 years old I feel threatened by her, because I can't cope with my friends childhood problems. Yeah, here are THE 5 reasons, DO YOU HEAR THAT BITCH?!" I mean, I don't know, maybe the last part of the article, where she talks about the girl's parents is worth reading, but I just couldn't get to it, feeling so much hatred pouring out from the article, the hatred the writer couldn't cope with.

Those articles are educational in the way that anything else is -- you read it, you feel/think something and you can ask yourself why you feel/think it. But so were Harlequins.

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I haven't. Can you explain ... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 5:56 AM | Posted, in reply to Joe's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

I haven't. Can you explain that?

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Of course by "that" I meant... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 6:25 AM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by hurtleyduffield: | Reply

Of course by "that" I meant "that joke", not "that I haven't seen the movie".

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I was talking about that sh... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 6:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I was talking about that shitty Medium article, not TLP.

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Funny thing about test take... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 6:49 AM | Posted, in reply to Pirate Trader's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Funny thing about test takers. Where True Blood got the notion to have their level 1 vampires kill the administrators is amusing. Cheers to the proper use of inspirational theft.

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I know your comment was pro... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 7:23 AM | Posted, in reply to Jane's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I know your comment was probably sarcastic, but choosing to have children is just about the most selfish, narcissistic thing you could possibly do.

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The Priscilla Chan "bikini ... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 7:49 AM | Posted by sunny day: | Reply

The Priscilla Chan "bikini pic" doesn't actually show much of her body. The photo requires the reader to imagine the torso. I think I'm supposed to think that she's super-ripped because "Shows Off" is in the title and I'm supposed to be envious. For all I know she has a giant cyst or a tattoo of a pissing Calvin above her belly button.

Tip: read the title, that will tell you how you are supposed to feel. You don't even need the content most of the time.

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Oh, no offense taken.... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 10:12 AM | Posted, in reply to hurtleyduffield's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Oh, no offense taken.

I agree that the vitriol of the article (and the comments, if you can stand it) is staggering, and towards who? Someone who mistreated them in middle school? They've held on to that their whole lives? They've lived long enough to have a child that is old enough for sleepovers and that's still what's driving them? To the point of allowing someone to publicly heap some pretty nasty language and obvious hatred on a pre-pubescent child?

you read it, you feel/think something and you can ask yourself why you feel/think it

It's that last step that I'm really interested in. I've been doing that whole process since I was a kid (most of us have), but it's really only been maybe the last 5-10 years that I've started really distrusting my conclusions about why I think or feel the things that I do, and maybe the last 2-3 years that I've started realizing how utterly determined I am to lie to myself in that last step. It can be an ugly thing to learn what a nasty person you are.

So, perhaps due to how comically middle-school the tone of the article is, I found that the lies I tell myself upon any sort of self-examination were put into a little sharper relief against this writing. I still see more of them just talking about it now. If you're trying to learn a skill, you start with easy steps, right?

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The oddest part about that ... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 1:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by cmoney: | Reply

The oddest part about that article is the fact a grown ass man is attending a young girl's sleepover party as a guest of the mother. What husband allows his wife's friendzoned BFF stay the night? Even if he's gay, why would he want to be there? Or is this one of those parties where the kids do their thing and the parents get drunk? Which, whatever, it happens, but it's an ironic setting for one to cast aspersions about someone else's parents.

And I guess that he finds it newsworthy that sometimes shitty kids have shitty parents is odd too. Stop the presses.

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alone's an anti-natalist? D... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 4:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

alone's an anti-natalist? Don't tell me you guys been watching HBO - did you pick that word up from True Detective?

choosing to have children is just about the most selfish, narcissistic thing you could possibly do.

Why's that? maybe I'm a narcissist but I really can't connect those two together. What's wrong with showing love, affection and
bringing another life into this world if you are responsible and are committed to raising them?

I think having kids is definitely a natural and very human thing to do - but maybe the natural/human thing to is also the most narcissistic thing you can ever do? Or is it only that way if you over think it?

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Guess there was a "not" mis... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 5:26 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Guess there was a "not" missing. And then it makes perfect sense, right?

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So glad you're writing agai... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 5:28 PM | Posted by wtyro: | Reply

So glad you're writing again.

You are a master of drawing connections, that thin golden thread, through (seemingly) wildly differing events -- to layer pages of narrative, different stories, different scenarios -- then draw the threads together into a denouement that blows minds.

The material in this essay is sharp as ever, but it's not polished. It's scattered. There are throwaway lines here worth an entire essay. This is not a criticism, it's a wish. More, please.

Yeah, me me me. There's a point:

Does this roughness and so many ideas shoehorned into a single paragraph (without your usual layering, etc), mean it's a sketch for your book on "porn"?

If so, and especially if it means you're feeling burn-out-y, maybe you could use the following writing advice that saved my bacon back when I almost didn't finish writing my first book:

Writing "about" the topic is a one-way trip to hell because there's no way a book, a physically constrained object, can cover everything about anything. The world is too large.

To keep scope, to maintain control, focus, ask yourself:

What is ONE THING the reader should think/feel/do at the end of THIS chapter?

Pick just ONE thing because it's hard for a chapter to have more than one takeaway. (You can still layer a bunch of stories, like you did in the Amy Schumer piece, to distill down to one high ABV takeaway, however.)

Make that ONE thing a bumpersticker phrase -- like "Change the Act IV." -- and use it to guide every sentence & paragraph. You can work backwards: What do they need to know to change the act iv? They need to know there IS an act iv. You can't just say "Life is a four act play, change it" they won't believe you. That's not how people learn, anyway. You do your thing -- layer and layer and layer until they have no choice but to see: There is an act IV, and you are fucking yourself up with it. They will never be able to unsee it, the rest of their lives. (Which is absolutely what you achieved in "Amy Schumer".)

The whole book itself should have a ONE thing, too, it's just a bigger ONE thing, and all the other little ONE things add up to it. Then you go from "What do I say?" to "What does the reader need to read, to achieve this One Thing?" — which narrows scope and turns the focus from you, what you have to say, what you want to say, what the topic demands, to what needs to get done to achieve your goals. It makes life SO much easier and less stressful.

Good luck. I absolutely can't wait.

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>True DetectiveSch... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 5:58 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>True Detective

Schopenhauer and Ligotti were around before HBO.

>I think having kids is definitely a natural and very human thing to do - but maybe the natural/human thing to is also the most narcissistic thing you can ever do? Or is it only that way if you over think it?

So because it's natural that means it's good? Arguably, rape and murder are inherent to our animal nature as well but you don't see too many people advocating their propogation based on a naturalistic fallacy.

Consider the fact that your need to continue the family legacy via the act of procreation is narcissistic preoccupation. More specifically, in the face of the absolute certainty of your death, the child thus serves as a (futile) extension of yourself. Society's obsession with medicine, the prolongation of life, and the attempt to stave off death for as long as biologically possible belies an intense narcissistic fantasy, and in the case of procreation this fantasy is at the expense of the child, who was neither consulted nor was asked for consent.

If your construct of the self will die one day, and you have knowledge of this event (something that most if not all people struggle with, some more and longer than others), what is the next best thing? Live vicariously through your kid.

So that's why I say bringing someone into this world - choosing to forcibly and nonconsensually create a life - is one of the most selfish things you can possibly do. Reproduction makes you an accessory before the fact to anything that befalls that individual, including his death.

Doug Stanhope has a great bit that paints a visual portrait of what I'm talking about (albeit a more emotional appeal built entirely on pathos), in which he describes his practice of whipping out a photo of himself standing at his dying father's hospital bed whenever some young couple bothers him with baby pictures. "This is what you created".

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Bad form, but since this is... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 7:51 PM | Posted by sunny day: | Reply

Bad form, but since this is where people who might be interested in reading it are--I wrote a post on the Medium article. Do you want to know why the WRITER is an asshole, because I can tell you!

http://bit.ly/1lzInU2

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From anon above:<bloc... (Below threshold)

March 5, 2014 9:53 PM | Posted by Glen: | Reply

From anon above:

I know your comment was probably sarcastic, but choosing to have children is just about the most selfish, narcissistic thing you could possibly do.

Not that I agree so much, but FWIW this is on Postsecret (yeah, yeah I know) this week:

Everytime I have sex I take a picture of myself so I can show my child what I looked like the night they were conceived

Per the second Medium article, I started to wonder if I was an asshole for thinking about how this guy was an asshole for thinking that this kid/parent were assholes. I guess that radar is underdeveloped. Oh well.

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Well, I have the same react... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 12:52 AM | Posted by John: | Reply

Well, I have the same reaction that occurs after every Last Psychiatrist reading... what's the solution?

I mean, great read. But for goodness sake, what is the alternative?

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I started to wond... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 10:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I started to wonder if I was an asshole for thinking about how this guy was an asshole for thinking that this kid/parent were assholes. I guess that radar is underdeveloped. Oh well.

(I'm the anon that posted that unfortunate link in the first place)

Well, my interest in all of this is not merely academic, so here's the thing: I already know whether or not I'm an asshole (I am). That's not the knowledge or skill I'm after. I want to work on changing the fact that I'm an asshole. But "don't be an asshole" is a nebulous goal, at best.

However, if I can be honest enough with myself about why I do the things I do, I have a much better chance of at least behaving differently, and changing behavior is a concrete, attainable goal. At first, if and when I manage to act differently, it's probably with a worse attitude than where I started, but as I start behaving differently and continue to make the behavior I want to see a habit, the reasons behind that behavior will start to change, and that nebulous goal from the first paragraph starts to look more attainable.

The other big part of that equation, for me, is forgiving people. I have been amazed at how much of my internal nastiness is residual anger directed at someone I may not even know that I happen to think wronged me. Not unlike Sarah in that crappy article. I can certainly think of people from middle school that hurt me and still make me a little mad to even think about, but I know now that that is what is going on. I don't have to wallow in it and pretend it's a nice place to be. I can recognize it, take a moment to re-forgive, and move on with my life. The last thing I want is to still be wound around the axle over something from 20 years ago, involving people who probably have no idea who I am. There are also big, difficult things to forgive, involving people I know very well, to be sure, but you have to start somewhere.

But none of that can happen if I'm not honest with myself about why I do and say the things I do.

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what does the title of this... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 10:56 AM | Posted by Mclarry: | Reply

what does the title of this post mean? "who can know how much randi z is worth?"

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So how much do you make fro... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 11:45 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So how much do you make from this blog?

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Whatever the solution is, i... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 1:30 PM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by Billy The Kid: | Reply

Whatever the solution is, it isn't likely to be grand. It is probably closer to a revolution of everyday life than anything else.

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Well, I wish Alone would po... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 2:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Billy The Kid's comment, by John: | Reply

Well, I wish Alone would post that essay. We already have 1,001 reasons to despise the "system" and feel cheated by life. It would be helpful to receive some direction for improvement.

It's hard for me to take seriously the constant criticisms of others by someone who never bothers to demonstrate their own superior method for negotiating life's complexity. I also question the social analysis of a writer who can't be bothered to ever model, in some detail, a functional society.

As always, I appreciate the wit here, but am left feeling precisely 0% more insightful about which changes to make in my own life or to push for in the culture at large.

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I posted this before in a p... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 3:49 PM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by badger: | Reply

I posted this before in a previous comment thread. I guess it should probably be posted in every comment thread eventually, because that's what the comments usually break down to:

People asking how they can change the system: the first, and most important, act is to simply be aware of the system and how it shapes your goals, your thoughts, your ideas, your perceptions, your language. Asking how to change the system isn't the right question. Once you're aware of the system, you are free, psychologically, to make your own decisions. Some of those decisions will seem to go along with the system, some of them will seem to go against it. But in all cases you will be making them with a clear mind and a clear conscience, without any shame (or other bad thoughts/emotions) due to whatever-the-system-has-built-into-you. I think that this is all that can be asked of any individual. The system is too big to be changed much directly, but if a number of people start independently making decisions which are essentially orthogonal to the system, there is a potential for change, but it will not be directed change, or change that can be predicted. That's the thing about orthogonality, it doesn't fit in the existing paradigms.

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2013/01/no_self-respecting_woman_would.html#comment-28912

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I believe I actually read t... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 4:34 PM | Posted, in reply to badger's comment, by John: | Reply

I believe I actually read that comment when you previously posted.

A couple thoughts. First off, I am highly dubious that the idea that awareness of the system will produce truly independent acts in individuals, unencumbered by obligations to the greater collective illusion. If nothing else, the system is based first and foremost on self-perpetuation (or survival) rather than meeting any specific ideological aim. The desires of the day are the fuel on which our society runs. When "narcissism" has been exhausted as an energy source, the self-isolation and stylized "rationality" of the type of INTJs who read this site will drive the next cultural fad. Our "system" is incredibly good at identifying emerging markets to gather into the fold. If RPG-playing, manosphere-reading social outcasts truly think they are immune to this process, they are sorely mistaken. Everyone has an ego, and the more STEMers' egos are stroked as their consumptive and productive habits are gradually awarded with social legitimacy, the more they will work to ensure this new system of rewards.

If anything, the anxiety over the decadence of one era that fuels the drive for change is easily transformed into the hard work that will produce the next era's unique brand of decadence. Fear compels us. The idea that we may be living in the last days prevents us from dissolving into the kind of erratic behavior that would actually ensure the last days.

This isn't to say that every epoch of human society (or Western Civ, since that's our current concern) is completely indistinguishable or that one individual can't live a more self-directed and generally enjoyable life than another on balance. Certainly, clear improvements to quality of life can be made over time (though unforeseen consequences must inevitably be reckoned with).

I'm simply doubtful how strongly social criticism will play a role in this process. In my experience, "enlightenment" is usually the false promise by which a cynic will maintain an audience. One's overall understanding of the functioning of the world may deepen over time with experience and research, but I think it's nearly impossible to reach (and maintain) any special place of perspective that would allow one to act with complete clarity of thought, free of manipulated influence.

Your proposed vision for a liberation from the system represents simply a different kind of system: one based on independent rational actors, striving solely based on self-interest. I thought this theory had already been tested? It could be that if everyone behaved this way, the world would be a better place. But what happens when my clear-headed system-free thinking leads me to undervalue your utility to the collective?

My main argument is that the writer for this blog and his readers should acknowledge the fact that in reality they desire not necessarily a liberation from all systems but a liberation into a new system that just happens to meet their specific needs and eccentricities better. Sure, this self-doubt and realistic skepticism will never help you on the road to lobbying and increased cultural influence which requires at least externally apparent dogmatic allegiance to stated values, but it might help soften the blow to society as a whole if and when you attain actual power.

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I'd say that person more li... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 6:00 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'd say that person more likely to be a narcissist is the man angry at his parents for bringing him into the world, rather than the people following the definably human act of procreation. Despising fertility is a thoroughly modern affair. There will always be people who avoid reproducing, whether by choice or fate, but dressing it up as some kind of stand for utilitarian net happiness is ridiculous.

I don't want kids, but at least I don't pretend it's a selfless act of preventing future suffering or such nonsense. I am selfish, and couldn't live for another person. I'm also afraid, of failure, of not being able to raise a productive and successful human being. This reflects on my own moral shortcomings, not society's.

If you just plain don't have the urge to breed, then bully for you.

Oh, and anyone who says they are childless/free because of overpopulation is talking shit. There may be a dozen reasons motivating their actions, some of them perfectly valid, but the fucking environment is not one of them.

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There's a lot of projection... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 6:33 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

There's a lot of projection going on in this post. First you accuse me of being angry at my parents, as if they're responsible for the reproductive drive of humanity, and then you accuse me of not having the urge to breed like I'm some robot.

On top of that you exclusively describe procreation as a human act, as if no other organism reproduces. Fertility is a feature of life, not just humans. The fact that you can't override your basest animal desires long enough to refrain from sticking your dick willy nilly in every hole that comes along is telling.

>but dressing it up as some kind of stand for utilitarian net happiness is ridiculous.

This is a willful misinterpretation of my post. Happiness has nothing to do with it. If you don't exist then logically you can't be happy or sad. The problem is people failing to realize that a state of being implies both happiness and sadness, one demonstrably more common than the other, and that it takes an enormous amount of hubris, delusion, and narcissism to fool yourself into believing a state of being is preferable to a state of non-being.

You want to have kids? Fine. But don't pretend for one second that you actually give a shit about the kid; you're doing it because it makes you feel good inside to see your genetics mashed together with your baby mama's and plastered across the face of your child. If you did give a shit, you wouldn't have it.

>Oh, and anyone who says they are childless/free because of overpopulation is talking shit. There may be a dozen reasons motivating their actions, some of them perfectly valid, but the fucking environment is not one of them.

Not once did I say that. And no I'm not pro-choice either; I dislike environmental nuts and creationists just as much as you do, but it doesn't take away the fact of the matter, which is that having a child is The Premier Narcissistic Act. I would even go as far to say that creating a life is as bad as taking one, maybe even worse, since by creating one you are essentially and premeditatively taking it as well.

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>And I'm not pro-choice eit... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 6:36 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>And I'm not pro-choice either

Whoops, this should be "not pro-life".

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>We already have 1,001 reas... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 7:31 PM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by Tom Servo: | Reply

>We already have 1,001 reasons to despise the "system" and feel cheated by life.

Woah, woah. This is way off. None of these posts are about being "cheated by life." Cheated by ourselves in an attempt to cheat others, maybe. This blog is less about the system than about our role in participating in the system (system of wants, that is). Having read your other reply after this one, I think you may be projecting a little too much of yourself into your readings (not sure I get the whole "STEMers", INTJ, manosphere blog demographic you tried to paint for example).

The fact is that the "solution" is written all over this site, it's just not the one you want to hear because it doesn't involve much from you and the result won't be explosive or grandiose. This is because the problem this website talks about isn't dismantling the system. It's about narcissism.

From: http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/02/the_other_ego_epidemic.html

"Help me, please, I think I'm a narcissist. What do I do?"

There are a hundred correct answers, yet all of them useless, all of them will fail precisely because you want to hear them.

There's only one that's universally effective, I've said it before and no one liked it. This is step 1: fake it.

You'll say: but this isn't a treatment, this doesn't make a real change in me, this isn't going to make me less of a narcissist if I'm faking!

All of those answers are the narcissism talking. All of those answers miss the point: your treatment isn't for you, it's for everyone else.

If you do not understand this, repeat step 1.

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Posts on this site frequent... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 8:19 PM | Posted, in reply to Tom Servo's comment, by John: | Reply

Posts on this site frequently condemn the system and its exploitation of its workers. The critique is clearly not aimed solely at unaffiliated individuals suffering from narcissism but at vast cultural forces. If Alone's sole concern was diagnosing , I don't think we'd see nearly so much social criticism. I'm a tad disappointed you ignored my points on that topic, although I do agree with this statement:

This blog is less about the system than about our role in participating in the system

My identification of TLP's readership may certainly be off-base. I detect significant overlapping sentiments between this blog and other neo-conservative, pro-technology, pro-rationality, "anti"-consumerist/environmentalist/feminist/pc enclaves of the Internet's intellectual "underground." But, maybe I'm painting with too broad a brush. My bias tends toward viewing society as swinging, pendulum-like, between alternating dichotomous forces, so I'm especially interested in detecting the fragmentary ideas that will coalesce to form the "Opposition" movement of the future.

But back to my original request for personal direction. I'm still unclear on what is meant by "faking it." Is the only advice this blog can muster for narcissists to pretend not to be narcissists? How is this possible? How, specifically, can this be accomplished?

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> If Alone's sole concern w... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 8:23 PM | Posted by John: | Reply

> If Alone's sole concern was diagnosing narcissism at the scale of the individual...

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>Posts on this site frequen... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 9:37 PM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by Tom Servo: | Reply

>Posts on this site frequently condemn the system and its exploitation of its workers.

They criticize the system, but are you sure you're clear of what is meant by "the system"?

I won't attempt to speak for Alone, I'll just quote his explanation:

I realize that “the system” is a nebulous term relying on an even more nebulous “unconscious”, lacking clear definition, so I’m going to try and define it. First, start with a single individual, and eliminate value words like “purpose” and “unintended consequences.” If a guy cheats on his girlfriend in a way that likely could get him caught, one might say, “he wants to get caught.”

Now add a few more individuals. I want an ipad, but I can’t afford the $10000 it would cost to make it in America AND generate to Apple the same nominal profit of $300/ipad, so then the ipad has to be made in China with cheaper labor. So while one can say, “the consumer wants an ipad,” and “Apple wants $300 in profit per ipad” the sum of those wants is “the system”: “The system wants cheap Chinese labor.” The system doesn’t want it because it’s awesome, it wants it because it added up the wants.

From: http://partialobjects.com/2013/03/lean-in-dissent/

Note "start with a single individual."

And, just a slight correction, I never used the term "unaffiliated individuals." I think the point is that the individuals comprise the system. That's why there are so many tie-ins with narcissism. It's true that there are cultural forces (television, advertising, older generations of narcissists) which benefit from this system and encourage it, but the real meat of these posts, to me anyhow, is in recognizing your own subjectivity within the system. I know that's not a gratifying answer because it only leaves you with power over yourself...but how crazy is it to be disappointed about that? I'm not saying you are, but power over other people is what it would take to dismantle the thing, which is why drinking and "the only way to win is not to play" are common themes.

>I'm still unclear on what is meant by "faking it."

Fair enough. I'm coming off like a goddamn scholar of this website with all of these citations, but I'll throw in another which I think will clear up the position.

V.


Narcissism is imitating by being. It is method acting all the time.


VI.

The problem wasn't TV, the problem was the absence of adults, real adults who took seriously their responsibility to the next generation, who lead not by words, but by behavior. Who, even if miserable or unfulfilled or unconnected had the decency to fake it for the next generation, for the people they touched. Who didn't cheat on their wives not just because they loved them, not just because it was ethically wrong, but because what kind of an example would that be to their daughters?

I know, everyone will disagree. Everyone, except daughters under 20.

...


VIII. The Solution No One Will Like


"I feel like I am playing a part, that I'm in a role. It doesn't feel real."

Instead of trying to stop playing a role-- again, a move whose aim is your happiness-- try playing a different role whose aim is someone else's happiness. Why not play the part of the happy husband of three kids? Why not pretend to be devoted to your family to the exclusion of other things? Why not play the part of the man who isn't tempted to sleep with the woman at the airport bar?

"But that's dishonest, I'd be lying to myself." Your kids will not know to ask: so?

The narcissist demands absolutism in all things-- relative to himself.

From http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2009/01/can_narcissism_be_cured.html

The "faking it" solution takes for granted the premise that narcissists are "method acting." AKA choosing roles, projecting them, and switching them when it is convenient. Alone recommends picking a role which is beneficial for the people around you.

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*the system comprises indiv... (Below threshold)

March 6, 2014 9:42 PM | Posted by Tom Servo: | Reply

*the system comprises individuals

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I think that Tom has alread... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2014 1:17 AM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by badger: | Reply

I think that Tom has already gone a good way into answering you, but I'll try to contribute what I can.

"Your proposed vision for a liberation from the system represents simply a different kind of system: one based on independent rational actors, striving solely based on self-interest. I thought this theory had already been tested? It could be that if everyone behaved this way, the world would be a better place. But what happens when my clear-headed system-free thinking leads me to undervalue your utility to the collective?"

Like it or not, human society on the whole always has and always will be comprised of "independent rational actors, striving solely based on self-interest". The degree to which this self-interest can be manipulated is what is really applicable here.

Of course, in earlier times, it could be directly coerced. Work in my fields, or you'll get your head bashed in. Nowadays the coercion/manipulation is more subtle, but a lot of it has to do with exactly the things that Alone discusses, e.g. the Trappings of Power vs. Real Power. I'll give an example here.

You think you're looking after your own self-interest by chasing after a job title or a career path, but often that only results in more work for a disproportionately low increase in income and/or real power. I think Alone used an example of a sales manager making 3% more than a sales rep but having to put in a lot more work. Any rational person wouldn't make that trade-off; but our narcissistic society relies largely on identifiers to create social capital, while a straightforward discussion of how much money you make is unseemly. Why should that be? Why would you be happy to announce to a stranger that you're the Manager of XYZ business, but you wouldn't be willing to tell them that that position carries a salary of $60,000 a year? Because the system wants to get more work out of you for proportionally less pay. It is able to do this because you value the title more than you value money. (Using "you" here of course for rhetorical effect, not to identify you personally, John.)

Similarly, many people fall for all kinds of gimmicks in their job lives that satisfy narcissistic/self-storytelling needs as opposed to simple economic remuneration. "My job is socially fulfilling", "My job makes me feel good", "I get to dress in nice clothes", "I have a corner office", etc. Why do you work? What is your job for? Alone's "You have been taught how to want, as well as what to want" mantra is as applicable here as in its everyday incarnation talking about consumerism.

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You only need to stick your... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2014 2:48 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You only need to stick your dick in one hole to make a baby. Running around and whoring it up is a separate phenomenon. Who's projecting again?

Sorry, but anybody who says making a life is as bad or worse than taking one has as much to say on the human condition as a koala bear on the life of a penguin. I know the internet is full of aspies who treat existence like a mathematical formula or logic puzzle, but that way madness and loneliness lies.

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" ... do not let the money ... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2014 11:34 AM | Posted by Nobody Atall: | Reply

" ... do not let the money whisper to you that you are worth it, it will be lying and you will believe it. You hold a fetish of value and not actual value. "

Word. All those liberal arts master's degree holders who are certain the pieces of paper make them "worth" X amount of money. *facepalm*

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Read a little closer next t... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2014 4:51 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Unsaintly Nicholas: | Reply

Read a little closer next time, Sparky

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Wrong. It's not about explo... (Below threshold)

March 7, 2014 4:57 PM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by Unsaintly Nicholas: | Reply

Wrong. It's not about exploiting the workers; exploiting someone means ignoring their objections, and taking advantage of their powerlessness. This blog is about how people with power _voluntarily renounce it,_ and the rhetorical sleight of hand that's used by prevailing powers to effect this renunciation. Read the article on Sheryl Sandberg and you'll see what I'm talking about. If you really think this is only a semantic difference, then I humbly submit that you should read more of the blog, and probably a lot of other things too.

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I already know whe... (Below threshold)

March 8, 2014 5:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Quiznos Bharnard: | Reply

I already know whether or not I'm an asshole (I am). That's not the knowledge or skill I'm after. I want to work on changing the fact that I'm an asshole.

I I I. Me me me.

You don't get to be less of an asshole by wanting it for your own sake. You don't get it by analyzing your behaviors, noting each and every one, understanding yourself perfectly.

You get it by losing your ego and doing things for other people, not for yourself. Or at least by faking that.

As long as you're formulating the question as "How do I become less of an asshole?" you're fighting the wrong battle—it's a battle about your identity, not about how to hurt other people less.

Either you can recognize that the self is a lie and thus comfortably change your behaviors and your identity at the same time, or you can just act like someone who isn't an asshole. "Fake it."

That is, the way not to be an asshole is to not be an asshole, but that feels wrong to you because it doesn't feel authentic, which is why the answer is "fake it"—doing it right will feel like faking it until that's become your new identity. But the people around you don't give a shit whether it's authentic or not as long as it means you're not being an asshole to them.

So if your real goal is not to be an asshole, then stop wasting your time self-actualizing and just begin changing your behaviors, because at the end of the day that's the important part about not being an asshole.

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This from an article on Lac... (Below threshold)

March 8, 2014 7:11 PM | Posted by John T.: | Reply

This from an article on Lacanonline.com:

Disrupting the imaginary register doesn't just entail a focus on the form of the image. As is clear in Lacan’s distinction between the ideal ego and the ego ideal, an imaginary disruption is effected not by pointing out some facet of the person’s self-image (that it is founded on an identification, for example) but the place from which that identification takes on a value, the thing that sanctions or invests that image.

What I find consistently in TLP's articles is a firm (if implicit) insistence on the distinction between what Lacan called the “ideal-ego” (your idea of the best “you” you can be) and what he referred to as the “ego-ideal” (the perspective from which that idea appears desirable). The distinction manifests itself in the various disjunctions Alone sets up in his articles -- for example, value vs. the fetishization of value, in this article. In Lacanese, imaginary identification with the ideal-ego is designated by the formula for fantasy ($>a), and what’s important to recognize is that

The fundamental Lacanian thesis of fantasy is that in the opposition between dream and reality, fantasy is on the side of reality: it is, as Lacan once said, the support that gives consistency to what we call 'reality'.
Tinker all you want with your idealized image of yourself, in other words, all that the “system” requires from you in order to perpetuate the reality that it’s already sold you on is your indirect identification with the “systemic” perspective from which that image appears valuable. Thus the distinction often drawn by Alone between "what to want" and "how to want" in which the former involves an imaginary identification that, regardless of its content, is underpinned by a symbolic identification that determines the latter.

If this distinction sounds to you somehow slippery or merely rhetorical, I submit that you are wrong. Commenter Anonymous doesn't want to be an asshole anymore, for example, but the difference between asshole and non-asshole only carries any meaning against a backdrop of value that overdetermines the particular contents of both. Ultimately, it has to be close to the definition of "asshole" to desire non-assholeness simply to feel better about oneself. If, on the other hand, you desire non-assholeness for the sake of others, then you are, paradoxically, already not an asshole.

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www.maydaymaydaymayday.org<... (Below threshold)

March 8, 2014 10:46 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

www.maydaymaydaymayday.org

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<a href="http://www.maydaym... (Below threshold)

March 8, 2014 10:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

http://www.maydaymaydaymayday.org

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Is Alone Catholic?... (Below threshold)

March 9, 2014 5:22 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Is Alone Catholic?

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My grandfather, a plumber, ... (Below threshold)

March 9, 2014 11:46 PM | Posted by Suspect Narcissist: | Reply

My grandfather, a plumber, has produced more grandchildren than Warren Buffet; indeed, most people of low and middle economic status produce more children than the upper strata; so is equating economic power with a sort of psycho-biological power not unrealistic? And is it more narcissistic or less narcissistic of me to prefer learning Ponce etudes on guitar and prefer learning and failing how to draw like Klimt and prefer being emotionally and sexually happy than being entirely materially and economically stable in this characteristically American capitalist sense? Doesn't it all come back to sex, Mr. Lacanian, Mr. Freudian?, so why should I even care about Buffet or the Zuckerchans-- best comes to best for them and they produce a beautiful blonde heiress to a hotel dynasty who winds up giving (bad) sloppy fellatio on video for all the world to see. Sure, I'm still in THE SYSTEM(^tm), but how can I be apart from the system anyway, as in-> so why bother concentrating on my relation to that which is within me and has created me beyond the revelations you lead me to (in this case, roughly, a possible lazy egoistic wish that many armchair [label] people possess)? Americans are lazy-- got it, -- people are lazy, I'm lazy but not so much intellectually. Re-reading the aforementioned sentence and I feel like I should reproach myself for being so arrogant, but I'm reading an intellectual blog that centers around socially- and self- aware psychoanalysis. Re-reading the next aforementioned sentence and I feel like I should reproach myself for using the word "intellectual"-- why is this? I'll think about that. Perhaps "I'll think about that" therefore I am. I am sensing a flaw not in Man but in man and his careless self reflection.

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I love to see my genetics m... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 6:08 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I love to see my genetics mashed together. When I see my genetics mashed together I get the greatest hard-on ever.

Seriously: I do feel sorry for you, having such an awful life and being able to convince yourself that it's all is the fault of your parents' narcissism and not you.

Hint words: narcissism, you.

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You were right the first ti... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 11:42 AM | Posted, in reply to Tom Servo's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You were right the first time. (The general rule for copyeditors is that particulars "comprise" the more general, and that the the more general is "composed of" it's particulars. If you never say "comprised of" you'll never be wrong.)

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I detect significant ove... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 4:24 PM | Posted, in reply to John's comment, by My Friend Craig: | Reply

I detect significant overlapping sentiments between this blog and other neo-conservative, pro-technology, pro-rationality, "anti"-consumerist/environmentalist/feminist/pc enclaves of the Internet's intellectual "underground.

Where do you guys get this from? I've seen a few people in the comments who seem to assume that Alone is some sort of anti-PC avenger, when he's never said anything that would make you think he's that stupid. He rails against ostensibly feminist sites like Jezebel for being shallow and counter-intuitive, but what do hell do you think is the point of an article on here titled "No Self-Respecting Woman Would Go Out Without Make Up"? Did you take that title literally and think that Alone advocates women's value defined by their looks?

Do you think when he's analyzing the racist assumptions of the average American, he's instead making affirmative statements about how the races should be viewed?

And "intellectual underground"? Are you fucking kidding me? The "ideology" you're describing is inherently self-serving to everyone involved in a way that's antithetical to everything discussed here (i.e., the one thing that's discussed here: narcissism).

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More projection, I love it.... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 8:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

More projection, I love it. Judging by the amount of downvotes I got, I no doubt pissed off a lot of angry parents who are unwilling to even entertain the notion that the creation (and thus assured destruction) of a life is a profoundly selfish and narcissistic act. The commentariat on this site is quick to sling around the term "narcissist" as a pejorative, as if they can somehow seem cool by half-assedly channeling Alone's insights, but they fail to take this worldview to its logical conclusion.

Who's going to step in next and make unfounded conjectures about my personal life instead of engaging my argument?

>Sorry, but anybody who says making a life is as bad or worse than taking one has as much to say on the human condition as a koala bear on the life of a penguin. I know the internet is full of aspies who treat existence like a mathematical formula or logic puzzle, but that way madness and loneliness lies.

I wonder how many upvotes I'll get if I resort to calling people aspies and various other buzzwords over the internet?

The comment section on this site has become Reddit-lite with its hivemind popularity-contest shenanigans. Don't agree with the worldview of a post, no matter how well-thought-out or well-written it is? Just hit the little minus button underneath and show others it's not worth reading! No need to respond with meaningful dialogue, just call the other person autistic and make vague accusations about him or her hating his or her parents!

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There's nothing less origin... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 9:21 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Cock: | Reply

There's nothing less original than a 4chan comment. "Buzzword", "Reddit-lite", "hivemind", it's all there. You're making the internet boring with that shit.

I don't have a dog in this fight, nor do I have kids, but this post right here essentially boils down to: "I was downvoted, this is because you have kids and also this is because of the hivemind. It can't be that my argument is flawed or that I'm presenting myself poorly."

If you have an actual argument about how antinatalism is the logical conclusion of "this worldview", then fuckin' make it. Because up to this point you haven't provided any reasoning, just assertions.

So go ahead, how does having children relate in any way to Alone's version of narcissism?

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>There's nothing less origi... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 9:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Cock's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>There's nothing less original than a 4chan comment. "Buzzword", "Reddit-lite", "hivemind", it's all there. You're making the internet boring with that shit.

And the pitying faux-concern is all there in your post, as well as every single response I've gotten. People are too consumed with calling the other person names to actually engage the content of a post. The comments section of this blog has been shit for quite some time now, and anyone who's not a shitposter can see that. Others have said as much long before I brought it up; check any of the recent articles.

>It can't be that my argument is flawed or that I'm presenting myself poorly."

If that were the case than people should have responded with an actual counter-argument instead of resorting to calling me autistic or just clicking the EPIC DOWNVOTE BUTTON.

Please, explain how my argument is flawed. That's all I'm asking, but you responded with typical name-calling.

>If you have an actual argument about how antinatalism is the logical conclusion of "this worldview", then fuckin' make it. Because up to this point you haven't provided any reasoning, just assertions. So go ahead, how does having children relate in any way to Alone's version of narcissism?

You should probably scroll up and read the entire thread before making yourself look like you haven't been following the conversation.

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>Consider the fact that you... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>Consider the fact that your need to continue the family legacy via the act of procreation is narcissistic preoccupation.

Assertion without an argument. How is it narcissistic, how does it relate to Alone's definition of narcissism?

>In the face of the absolute certainty of your death, the child thus serves as a (futile) extension of yourself.

This would be true if every act of conception were narcissistic. But that isn't true. Kids can be conceived for religious reasons, accidentally, mindlessly, for fun, to please the other person, etc. None of these reasons are inherently narcissistic.

Having a kid isn't by default the same as having an extension of yourself.

>the attempt to stave off death for as long as biologically possible belies an intense narcissistic fantasy

How? You said Alone was profoundly antinatalist, but when has he ever implied that life itself is narcissistic? I don't think he would agree that living longer is narcissistic in and of itself. Consider his posts on suicide.

The problem here is that you're equating procreation with "living vicariously through your kid", which I'll admit many people do. But that equation is not the default, it's just a narcissistic delusion. Procreation itself is not narcissistic. The intentions still matter.

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"it takes an enormous amoun... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:18 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by badger: | Reply

"it takes an enormous amount of hubris, delusion, and narcissism to fool yourself into believing a state of being is preferable to a state of non-being."

In math, if you start your proof with the assumption that 1=0, I'm going to dismiss you as a fool and refuse to engage with you. That's exactly what you do when you state "existence is bad". It is provably wrong, and your very existence is the proof!

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>In math, if you start your... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:24 PM | Posted, in reply to badger's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>In math, if you start your proof with the assumption that 1=0, I'm going to dismiss you as a fool and refuse to engage with you.

Good thing this isn't a math equation then!

>That's exactly what you do when you state "existence is bad".

No it's not. "Existence is bad" is a value judgment. Value judgments are inherently subjective.

We're not arguing proofs here, we're arguing subjective value judgments. The objective then is to express why, in your opinion, you agree or disagree with my "assertion", so as to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

>It is provably wrong, and your very existence is the proof!
>provably wrong, and your very existence is the proof

I'd like to know how you arrived at this conclusion.

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"it takes an enormous amoun... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:26 PM | Posted by badger: | Reply

"it takes an enormous amount of hubris, delusion, and narcissism to fool yourself into believing a state of being is preferable to a state of non-being."

You yourself introduced value judgments when you used the world "preferable".

If non-existence is preferable to existence, why do you choose to exist? Unless you are severely disabled, you presumably have the means to end your existence. If it's so preferable, why are you still around?

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>Assertion without an argum... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>Assertion without an argument. How is it narcissistic, how does it relate to Alone's definition of narcissism?

That would depend on the reasons why one would think it appropriate to have a child. I've (briefly) explained my thoughts on this further up in the thread.

>This would be true if every act of conception were narcissistic. But that isn't true. Kids can be conceived for religious reasons, accidentally, mindlessly, for fun, to please the other person, etc. None of these reasons are inherently narcissistic.

I would agree if all of the above were not done without the consent of, or any thought to, the unborn child. It's an inherently selfish act. You're making a decision for the existence of another person, much in the same way that people impose their own will over another person by rape or murder.

Taking this at face value, we can now see why religious / accidental / mindless / fun / etc. reasons are without regard for anyone but the parent. You're doing it for religious reasons? Keyword: you. You're doing it to please your partner? YOU are doing it because YOU would rather impose your will on a helpless unborn person who can't argue one way or another rather than upset your wife.

>Having a kid isn't by default the same as having an extension of yourself.

But a child is by definition an extension of both yourself and your partner, physically, biologically, etc. If you're arguing just psychologically (I need to have a child to continue my legacy), then I would agree with you. But it does happen.

>How? You said Alone was profoundly antinatalist, but when has he ever implied that life itself is narcissistic?

I said that Alone's writing was profoundly antinatalist. And I don't believe that life itself was narcissistic. Reference the post I made about procreation being an inherent feature of organic life rather than a specific human drive.

>I don't think he would agree that living longer is narcissistic in and of itself. Consider his posts on suicide.

Of course not, but a strong motivating factor for someone who wants to have a child might be to "symbolically" stave off death by continuing your legacy via your child. Christopher Lasch talks about this at great length in "The Culture of Narcissism", which is where Alone draws quite a bit of his material. That's why I mentioned medicine and the obsession with prolongation of life.

>The problem here is that you're equating procreation with "living vicariously through your kid", which I'll admit many people do. But that equation is not the default, it's just a narcissistic delusion. Procreation itself is not narcissistic. The intentions still matter.

I don't believe procreation itself is narcissistic; I'm talking about the reasoning / motivation / rationalization / intentions behind why we procreate. A dog fucks because its instincts, its biology, tell it to. A human has the mental capabilities to reflect on the act of procreation as well as the moral implications of said act, and I think it's interesting to meditate on the kind of rationalizations and mental gymnastics we go through to convince ourselves why we're doing it. I think if people started thinking of and acting for others rather than themselves (strangely enough the theme of this entire blog! How weird is that?), there would at least be a strong reflection on the nature of procreation, if not a sizable decrease in the amount of people who decide to have children.

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>You yourself introduced va... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:48 PM | Posted, in reply to badger's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>You yourself introduced value judgments when you used the world "preferable".

Yes because this entire conversation is based on value judgments, not "proofs". Why are you having such a hard time understanding and coming to terms with this?

>If non-existence is preferable to existence, why do you choose to exist? Unless you are severely disabled, you presumably have the means to end your existence. If it's so preferable, why are you still around?

I didn't choose to exist. If you're asking me why I don't choose to commit suicide, that's a whole other can of worms.

I said that a state of non-existence was preferable over a state of existence pre-birth. My problem is with the people who would selfishly make that decision for you. If you've already been birthed, arguments can be made for trying to make the best of your existence before you inevitably die. Your mileage may vary.

It would be interesting to know what you would consider acceptable circumstances for suicide. For example, if you were trapped in a burning building and faced with jumping or being consumed by flames, would you take the plunge? By your standards when is it okay or not okay?

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"it takes an enormous amoun... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:48 PM | Posted by Justin Charity: | Reply

"it takes an enormous amount of hubris, delusion, and narcissism to fool yourself into believing a state of being is preferable to a state of non-being."

Ah, would if we could all re-live in a ratty sophomore dorm, fiending the regularly scheduled chicken tenders down at the cafeteria . . .

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Hey look, someone else who ... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 10:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Justin Charity's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Hey look, someone else who cares less about what is being said than who is allegedly doing the saying!

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"Yes because this entire co... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 11:12 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by badger: | Reply

"Yes because this entire conversation is based on value judgments, not "proofs". Why are you having such a hard time understanding and coming to terms with this?"

You assigned those value judgments, so they are fair game in my argument against you. I did not assign them. If you believe in those value judgments, then they are yours to defend. That is the side of the argument that you staked out at the beginning. I'm not debating over whether it is a value judgment or not. I'm simply stating that it is YOUR value judgment and the premiss from which all of your other statements follow.

"I didn't choose to exist. If you're asking me why I don't choose to commit suicide, that's a whole other can of worms."

Yes, that's exactly what I was asking.

"I said that a state of non-existence was preferable over a state of existence pre-birth. My problem is with the people who would selfishly make that decision for you. If you've already been birthed, arguments can be made for trying to make the best of your existence before you inevitably die. Your mileage may vary."

Oh, ok. That wasn't exactly clear. "Arguments can be made..." sounds kinda, I dunno, wishy-washy. Like maybe you could be persuaded. The statement which I now quote for a third time:

"it takes an enormous amount of hubris, delusion, and narcissism to fool yourself into believing a state of being is preferable to a state of non-being."

does not lead me to think that there would be much room left for nuance there. Your use of the words "enormous" "delusion" and "fool" led me to believe that you were making the case that non-being was preferable to being, in all circumstances. It appears that this is not your actual belief, but if that's the case, please refrain from making such strongly worded statements in the future if you aren't really going to back them up.

Also, "pre-birth"? "Make that decision for you"? What is there, "pre-birth"? Is there anything? Is there any way of communicating with them? (I will note that some belief systems, I'm not sure which but I know I've heard the idea articulated, have the idea that the "pre-birth" souls CHOOSE to inhabit the newly created human at the moment of conception!) I have no idea what there is "pre-birth", but I do know that there's no way of me to *ever* know what there is "pre-birth", and if I don't "make that decision for them" then there will never be a "them" for me to make a decision for! The whole argument is absurd. May as well argue about whether we go to Heaven when we die.

"It would be interesting to know what you would consider acceptable circumstances for suicide. For example, if you were trapped in a burning building and faced with jumping or being consumed by flames, would you take the plunge? By your standards when is it okay or not okay?"

I would certainly consider it acceptable to commit suicide if one firmly believed that non-existence was better than (excuse me, "preferable to") existence. More broadly, I have no problem with euthanasia. If I were faced with the burning building scenario, I would probably jump. I don't see how needless, inevitable suffering is good for anybody. I have pretty strong definitions of "needless" and "inevitable", and I think that most suicides are a shame, but yeah, I could see the need in certain circumstances. If there were a chance that I could be rescued from the burning building, or if some scenario required that I be burned in order to save the world or something, ok, but if it's clearly all over but the suffering, and the suffering is meaningless, then by all means I would jump. Who wouldn't?

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>You assigned those value j... (Below threshold)

March 10, 2014 11:38 PM | Posted, in reply to badger's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>You assigned those value judgments, so they are fair game in my argument against you. I did not assign them. If you believe in those value judgments, then they are yours to defend. That is the side of the argument that you staked out at the beginning. I'm not debating over whether it is a value judgment or not. I'm simply stating that it is YOUR value judgment and the premiss from which all of your other statements follow.

So then you can understand my bewilderment when you bring up math, and state that my existence itself is proof that existence is not bad.

>Yes, that's exactly what I was asking.

In that case it would have to be because, by my estimation, the quality of my life hasn't gotten to the point where suicide is an absolute must, and the act of suicide itself is by no means an easy one; one that wouldn't already add to a life full of suffering. That may or may not change in the future. The point of contention, the thing I take issue with, is the decision to be brought into existence being made for me. If you're already alive, you can either deal with the cards you've been dealt or irreversibly reject the nature of your existence. This of course depends on each individual's specific circumstances and is why I say that people's mileage may vary; but I do believe that a reasonably strong case can be made against the idea that having a child is okay because that person may come to live a reasonably acceptable life. I would argue that throughout the entirety of human existence, most have not.

>[this statement]does not lead me to think that there would be much room left for nuance there. Your use of the words "enormous" "delusion" and "fool" led me to believe that you were making the case that non-being was preferable to being, in all circumstances.

That is my subjective opinion, yes.

>Also, "pre-birth"? "Make that decision for you"? What is there, "pre-birth"? Is there anything? Is there any way of communicating with them? (I will note that some belief systems, I'm not sure which but I know I've heard the idea articulated, have the idea that the "pre-birth" souls CHOOSE to inhabit the newly created human at the moment of conception!) I have no idea what there is "pre-birth", but I do know that there's no way of me to *ever* know what there is "pre-birth", and if I don't "make that decision for them" then there will never be a "them" for me to make a decision for! The whole argument is absurd. May as well argue about whether we go to Heaven when we die.

I'm not religious, I'm not invoking the idea of a soul or a supernatural existence before birth. I'm talking about the fact that before you were born (however you choose to define the illusory concept of the "self"), you for all intents and purposes did not exist. The act of procreation set off a long chain of events that eventually resulted in you. The exact moment your parents decided to formulate your being from their biology was the moment this chain of events started, and if they had not done so, "you" would not be here.

>I would certainly consider it acceptable to commit suicide if one firmly believed that non-existence was better than (excuse me, "preferable to") existence. More broadly, I have no problem with euthanasia. If I were faced with the burning building scenario, I would probably jump. I don't see how needless, inevitable suffering is good for anybody. I have pretty strong definitions of "needless" and "inevitable", and I think that most suicides are a shame, but yeah, I could see the need in certain circumstances. If there were a chance that I could be rescued from the burning building, or if some scenario required that I be burned in order to save the world or something, ok, but if it's clearly all over but the suffering, and the suffering is meaningless, then by all means I would jump. Who wouldn't?

We seem to be in agreement here.

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Good read. Thanks for the p... (Below threshold)

March 11, 2014 7:11 PM | Posted, in reply to e1373868@drdrb.com's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Good read. Thanks for the post!

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[url=http://www.softassembl... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 8:13 AM | Posted by cheap The Game: | Reply

[url=http://www.softassembly.com/The-Game.html]The Game voucher[/url]. New titles

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>Christopher Lasch talks ab... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 6:18 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

>Christopher Lasch talks about this at great length in "The Culture of Narcissism", which is where Alone draws quite a bit of his material.

Is this actually true or do you just assume it's true?

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"So then you can understand... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 6:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by someone: | Reply

"So then you can understand my bewilderment when you bring up math, and state that my existence itself is proof that existence is not bad."

It would be proof, if you were making logical statements. Even value judgments can have a place in logic. Logic does not care for the value judgments one way or the other, but that does not mean that they cannot be incorporated at all. "X is a Ball, all Balls are Red, therefore X is Red" works whether you're talking about "Balls" and "Red", or "Existence" and "Good" (or "Preferable" if you want to water it down, but "Preferable" really means "Better", and "Better" is the comparative of "Good", so I'll just say "Good").

"That is my subjective opinion, yes."

Oh, I see, so you think that gets you out of having to argue with logic. Nope, sorry, doesn't work that way. See above. Just because something you believe is "your subjective opinion" doesn't mean that you can't be asked to realize the logical consequences of your belief.

"I do believe that a reasonably strong case can be made against the idea that having a child is okay because that person may come to live a reasonably acceptable life. I would argue that throughout the entirety of human existence, most have not."

Ok, and you're qualified to make judgments of the value of other people's lives.... how? How many people have you interviewed? Have you ever run a survey down at the nursing home, "1. Was your life worthwhile? 2. Are you glad that you were born? etc. etc." Or are you just somehow either extrapolating from your own life, experiences, and preferences that most people's lives must have been shitty throughout history? So shitty, that they would have preferred not to live? Because I'm pretty sure that if you were to ask, 99%+ would state that their lives were worth living. Just based on my conversations with people, and the experiences I've had in my life, and the things that I've read and seen. (And yes, I have personally talked to people on their deathbeds in hospitals. An experience which, somehow, I doubt you've had.) People have lived horrible lives and managed to remain optimistic, hopeful, and happy to have lived. You can call that delusion if you want, but I'd rather err on the side of delusional happiness than cold hard "rational" depression that states that life, on average, is not worth living.

You are the narcissist here. You are depressed, and you think that everybody else must be depressed as well; or that they would be better off depressed, that anything else is "delusional." You believe that you could make better decisions than they could, calmly and rationally, without ever walking a mile in their brains or opening yourself to the possibility that it might be possible to enjoy life on its own terms, even with the unpleasant things that may happen. But you wouldn't really be making rational decisions; you'd be making the decisions of a depressed person. You only think it's rational because you're depressed. (Or have some other mental/emotional disorder -- I am not a psychiatrist/psychologist/doctor/professional of any kind.)

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>Is this actually true or d... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 9:06 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>Is this actually true or do you just assume it's true?

Maybe you should read it like I did and find out for yourself.

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So you're deliberately spre... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 9:17 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

So you're deliberately spreading uncertain information (your assumptions) as if it were true. Got it.

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It would be proof,... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 9:39 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

It would be proof, if you were making logical statements. Even value judgments can have a place in logic. Logic does not care for the value judgments one way or the other, but that does not mean that they cannot be incorporated at all. "X is a Ball, all Balls are Red, therefore X is Red" works whether you're talking about "Balls" and "Red", or "Existence" and "Good" (or "Preferable" if you want to water it down, but "Preferable" really means "Better", and "Better" is the comparative of "Good", so I'll just say "Good").

Did you even read what you wrote before you wrote it? What a terrible analogy.

Observing that X Ball is Red is about as close to an objective fact as you can get. Too bad we're not talking about facts though, we're talking about subjective ethics and value judgments. Bringing up mathematical proofs is asinine.

My belief that a state of non-being is preferable to state of being is a subjective value. An opinion. The existence of suffering on a grand scale however is a fact. That you would not be here if your parents did not procreate is a fact. The fact that at this very moment, people are being tortured, wasting away at the hands of painful incurable terminal diseases, having to withstand the passing of a loved one, or any countless other pathologies and modes of suffering is a fact. The idea that most people exist in a state of mild equilibrium between short bouts of happiness and suffering, tipping asymmetrically over onto the side of suffering, is something that can't readily be measured but it is also something I would happily assume based on my own experience and the experience of others (obviously this doesn't make it fact). While we are still animals, what separates us categorically from the other animals is the fact that we can know that we know we are suffering, which causes even greater anxieties and is the foundation and wellspring of a plethora of mental illnesses.

All these things are factored into and inform my argument, and while it's an incredibly watered down recounting of said argument, it's pretty much the bare bones.

Oh, I see, so you think that gets you out of having to argue with logic. Nope, sorry, doesn't work that way. See above. Just because something you believe is "your subjective opinion" doesn't mean that you can't be asked to realize the logical consequences of your belief.

When has anything I've said been argued "illogically"? I have fully realized the logical consequences of my beliefs and they are indeed based on logical reasoning, but the end value judgment is a subjective one. Just like your belief that life is worth living. Life is neither inherently worth living or not worth living, we assign value to these things based on subjective experience. And if I did have to take a moral or ethical stance, it would indeed be that creating a person without his or her consent is immoral.

Why you assume this conversation has nothing to do with logic is beyond me. Maybe take a class on logic and / or ethics and come back.

Ok, and you're qualified to make judgments of the value of other people's lives.... how?

I'm qualified to make subjective value judgments, yes. Just like you are.

Once again this isn't a mathematical proof. Ethics is by definition subjective. There is no "objective moral code of the universe". If you happen to discover one please let the rest of us know; they hand out Nobel Prizes for that sort of thing.

How many people have you interviewed? Have you ever run a survey down at the nursing home, "1. Was your life worthwhile? 2. Are you glad that you were born? etc. etc." Or are you just somehow either extrapolating from your own life, experiences, and preferences that most people's lives must have been shitty throughout history? So shitty, that they would have preferred not to live? Because I'm pretty sure that if you were to ask, 99%+ would state that their lives were worth living. Just based on my conversations with people, and the experiences I've had in my life, and the things that I've read and seen.

So my anecdotal experience doesn't count but yours does? Just stop.

And yes, I have personally talked to people on their deathbeds in hospitals. An experience which, somehow, I doubt you've had.)
You are the narcissist here. You are depressed, and you think that everybody else must be depressed as well; or that they would be better off depressed, that anything else is "delusional." You believe that you could make better decisions than they could, calmly and rationally, without ever walking a mile in their brains or opening yourself to the possibility that it might be possible to enjoy life on its own terms, even with the unpleasant things that may happen. But you wouldn't really be making rational decisions; you'd be making the decisions of a depressed person. You only think it's rational because you're depressed. (Or have some other mental/emotional disorder

It is now clear that you don't know what being a narcissist means and you have no basis for assuming I'm depressed. Baseless conjecture and wild assumptions, but it's really not surprising considering the rest of your post. Thanks for your armchair diagnosis.

If you would deny that any of the nasty things I've listed near the beginning of my post aren't happening, and don't continue to happen every time someone procreates and resets the horrific chessboard for a new generation in a world where people like psychiatrists have to pick up the pieces, or that it's not worth at least considering and discussing the implications of forcing another person into existence, then you my friend are the narcissist. It seems the only thing you care about is yourself. I'm thinking of the other person.

I am not a psychiatrist/psychologist/doctor/professional of any kind.)

That's increasingly evident.

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>So you're deliberately spr... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 9:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>So you're deliberately spreading uncertain information (your assumptions) as if it were true. Got it.

Nope. It is true, that's why I said it, and it's also why I said if you don't believe me you should actually read it yourself. No need to get testy.

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Nobody's getting testy, it'... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 10:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Nobody's getting testy, it's just that you're a little too confident about the connections you're making to the point where you're forgetting that they're assumptions and not fact. First, you implied that Alone is profoundly anti-natalist, but then it turned out that this argument hinges on the assumption that Alone "draws quite a bit of material" from Lasch's book.

But returning from your perspective and back to reality, there is no actual evidence that either of these things are true. You can assume them all you want, but they remain assumptions. When you're at the point where you take your assumption and literally start typing "Nope. It is true," you're heading into delusional territory. I may or may not read Lasch's book in the future. I may conclude that there are similar ideas or see an influence, but will I then go on and say deliberately that TLP "draws quite a bit of material" from the book when I have no evidence of that fact? No. Again, it sounds like you're seeing what you want to see. A little self-doubt is good for all of us.

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>Nobody's getting testy, it... (Below threshold)

March 12, 2014 10:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>Nobody's getting testy, it's just that you're a little too confident about the connections you're making to the point where you're forgetting that they're assumptions and not fact. First, you implied that Alone is profoundly anti-natalist, but then it turned out that this argument hinges on the assumption that Alone "draws quite a bit of material" from Lasch's book.

Alone's writing being profoundly antinatalist may very well not even be true; it may very well be a case of me seeing something that's now there. You'd have to ask him yourself.

Lasch's book is another story. As far as the book goes, I don't know how anyone could read it and not see that Alone is heavily influenced by some of the chapters in his writing. This may also be untrue, he may have never read it or heard about it in his life, but considering he's a psychiatrist presumably in his 30's or 40's whose primary fascination is with the pathology of generational narcissism, I find it fairly improbable that he's never come into contact with it. It's also why I invited you to read the book yourself and draw your own conclusions if you don't trust the veracity of my judgment. Some of it is almost word for word. It's also a really good read; I would recommend it.

And that isn't a knock against Alone either, I enjoy his writing and his blog very much. But after reading Lasch's book, published in 1979 - long before this blog existed - it's hard not to see a connection. Again this isn't a bad thing, I was just trying to give people something to put on their reading list that may strike an interest based on the theme of this blog.

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Once again you believe that... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 1:49 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by someone: | Reply

Once again you believe that because something is your "subjective opinion" that it is somehow exempt from logical argumentation. It's your ultimate "get out of jail free" card.

Logical arguments can be built on any statement, whether that statement is a "provable fact" such as "the ball is red" or a "subjective opinion" like "existence is bad". The logic would have to hold either way.

"Why you assume this conversation has nothing to do with logic is beyond me."

Because the only way to convince another of the veracity of your statements is through logical argumentation. Do you want me to agree with you, or not? Do you want to get me to change my beliefs, or not? (If not, what is your purpose in commenting here?) 'Cause the only way you're going to get there is by proving yourself logically. The fact that you hold "subjective beliefs" that disagree with mine doesn't faze me one bit, but if you want to convince me to adopt them then there's only one way to do it. (And before you say that you don't care about me, that I'm just an idiot arguing on the Internet: fine. Forget about me, you're posting it here for a reason, and that reason would seem to be to convince *somebody* (other commenters or just passive readers) to believe as you do.) (And, yes, just in case it wasn't perfectly clear already, my purpose in commenting here is to convince you that you are wrong, that life is worth living. Yes, you, in particular, Anonymous.)

"I have fully realized the logical consequences of my beliefs and they are indeed based on logical reasoning, but the end value judgment is a subjective one."

No, the beginning value judgment is the subjective one. Regardless of its subjectivity, I'm willing to take it for granted, and accept it as a Truth, and then walk through the consequences logically, and see what results. If those results don't match up with what we observe in the world, then that's a good signal that the original assumption, on which the entire argument was based, was actually false. Look up "proof by contradiction".

(You may reply that your "subjective opinions" aren't subject to logic, that they can't be reasoned out of you. In which case, I would refer you to a partial definition of psychosis, "having a loss of contact with reality". If you hold beliefs that no amount of reason/logic/proof can change, ok. You can hold beliefs that are provably in contradiction with reality, but don't hold yourself out to be a sane person.)

"So my anecdotal experience doesn't count but yours does? Just stop."

LOL. You can be snide all you want, but the fact is, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In my life, I cannot recall coming across anybody who had conclusively (meaning, they held this belief for a long period of time) and rationally (meaning, during a period when they were in their right mind and fully sane) come to hold the same belief that you have. While I'm willing to bet that you know many people who believe as I do; that existence is good, that life is worth living.

"The idea that most people exist in a state of mild equilibrium between short bouts of happiness and suffering, tipping asymmetrically over onto the side of suffering, is something that can't readily be measured but it is also something I would happily assume based on my own experience and the experience of others (obviously this doesn't make it fact)."

Once again, I believe that if you somehow conducted a survey, the vast majority of people would disagree. But perhaps you believe that you are smarter, more perceptive, more rational than the unwashed masses?

"you have no basis for assuming I'm depressed"

It's pretty much a given that a belief that life is not worth living is generally found among those suffering from depression and/or some other mental/emotional disorder.

"If you would deny that any of the nasty things I've listed near the beginning of my post aren't happening, and don't continue to happen every time someone procreates and resets the horrific chessboard for a new generation in a world where people like psychiatrists have to pick up the pieces, or that it's not worth at least considering and discussing the implications of forcing another person into existence, then you my friend are the narcissist."

Wow, you sound like this world is a living nightmare! I once again posit that, for the vast majority of humans world-wide, things are not nearly so bad as you make them out to be. Psychiatrists "pick up the pieces" for a very small proportion of the population, and a good chunk of what takes place in psychiatrists' offices nowadays is fake over-diagnoses anyway.

And as I think I've indicated by replying to you here, I am more than willing to entertain a discussion on "the implications of forcing another person into existence".

"It seems the only thing you care about is yourself. I'm thinking of the other person."

I'm thinking of the other person, too. The other person who never would have gotten a chance to exist without my choices. The other person who has already experienced great joy in life, and who has been the cause of great joy in others' lives. And judging by the massive preponderance of evidence out there; including my personal experiences, the experiences of others with whom I've talked, my perceptions from arts and other communications media; my kid is not the only one out there who has a good life, a life worth living. In fact, he's included among the vast majority of humanity throughout history.

You look at others' lives and find them full of pain and suffering, outweighing the joy and hope and positive emotions that they experience throughout their lifetime. I posit that you have a skewed view on their lives, and that their own assessments would disagree strongly with yours.

"The existence of suffering on a grand scale however is a fact. That you would not be here if your parents did not procreate is a fact. The fact that at this very moment, people are being tortured, wasting away at the hands of painful incurable terminal diseases, having to withstand the passing of a loved one, or any countless other pathologies and modes of suffering is a fact."

The existence of joy and happiness on a grand scale however is a fact. The fact that at this very moment, people are having orgasms, discovering new scientific truths, alleviating the suffering of others, eating good food, enjoying the company of others, intoxicating themselves via various drugs, exerting themselves physically in a way that they find pleasant, expressing themselves creatively, thinking of new ideas, reading a good book or watching a good movie, playing with puppies, building something useful, watching fireworks, staring at pretty lights, or any other countless modes of enjoyment and happiness is a fact.

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I should not have commented... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 3:23 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by someone: | Reply

I should not have commented on this above:

"And if I did have to take a moral or ethical stance, it would indeed be that creating a person without his or her consent is immoral."

Let's take that statement, and apply logic to it.

A: "Creating a person without his or her consent is immoral." (Opinion -- accepted as truth for now)
B: "Behavior which is moral is desirable and good." (Fact -- definition)
C: "Obtaining the consent of the unborn is impossible." (Fact -- undeniable)
D: "Humanity cannot continue as a species if new humans are not created." (Fact -- undeniable)

A+C ==> E: "Creating a person is immoral."

E+D ==> F: "The continuation of humanity as a species is immoral."

F+B ==> CONCLUSION: "The continuation of humanity as a species is undesirable and bad." Or, changing the wording slightly:

"The death of humanity as a species is desirable and good."

So now, we examine that conclusion. Is that conclusion acceptable? Does it fit with our beliefs? If not, we need to reject statement (A) which is the only part of the premisses which can possibly be rejected.

Now, I'm sure that you've conducted this reasoning yourself, and you probably actually believe in this conclusion. And that's fine, that's another of your beliefs, and as long as you accept the conclusion, you don't have to reject (A).

However, you should recognize that VERY few people will ever accept that conclusion, and so (if they are very smart at all) they will *always* choose to reject (A) out-of-hand because it inevitably leads to a conclusion that, in their eyes, is indistinguishable from insanity.

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Of course "I should not hav... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 3:24 AM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by someone: | Reply

Of course "I should not have commented on this above:" should be "I should have commented on this above:"

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Yep, that's a perfectly val... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 1:26 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by John Doe: | Reply

Yep, that's a perfectly valid argument, and well-demonstrated.

And while I agree with the form of the argument, I would add that the (other) poster's sentiments regarding (Suffering > Happiness) are not unprecedented. The most succinct and elegant argument I've heard in favor of that sentiment comes from none other than the paradigmatic pessimist himself, Arthur Schopehnauer (Nietzsche's instructor and the philosopher whom he respected above all others), for whom pain and suffering were the only positives in life, and all happiness a mere negative (i.e., the cessation of some previously existing pain.)

Anyone who imagines that the pleasure in life outweighs the pain, or in any event that the two are somehow equal, need only to compare the feelings of an animal that is devouring another with the feelings of that other.

In other words, for Schopenhauer, life is suffering (i.e., desire); not in the sense that life is a series of ups and downs, a "roll-with-the-punches" sort of philosophy, but in a much more radical sense: suffering is like the basal metabolic rate of life -- were it not for the suffering of our existence, we wouldn't even notice it. It wouldn't even exist. And Schopenhauer is much harder to argue with.

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I cannot deny that the basa... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 3:25 PM | Posted, in reply to John Doe's comment, by someone: | Reply

I cannot deny that the basal metabolic rate of human life seems to be a kind of striving or desire, but I don't equate that with suffering (not in most cases, at least). In fact, most people seem to get some pleasure out of it, however masochistic it may seem sometimes.

As for the one animal devouring another example, I think that is a false comparison. Well, it may be a valid comparison, but the conclusion that the net vector summation of all life-experiences must be one of net suffering, doesn't follow.

Firstly, it is pretty much a given that the greatest amount of suffering that most individuals will ever perceive will occur in the moments leading up to their death. For most suffering-perceptive animals, that period of time is quite short in comparison with the rest of their lives. So you kind of have to weigh the positives with the negatives, integrated over one's entire lifespan. Does 8 hours of -10 extreme suffering negate 8 years of +2 mild pleasure? Of course, it is impossible to put numbers on such things, but numbers are the best tool that we have, unfortunately. When all you have is a hammer, etc. But in any case, the numbers demonstrate the idea.

Secondly, there are plenty of organisms that get their nutrition from plants or other life-forms which cannot really be said to perceive suffering (from single-celled organisms up to, perhaps, insects? Perhaps even up through some vertebrates such as fish or reptiles?). We can posit a closed system in which suffering is minimized, even when one suffering-perceptive organism must eat another. E.g. a human society that raises cattle for food. The cattle eat grass (which cannot suffer) and generally lead pleasant lives; the humans kill the cattle in a humane manner which minimizes suffering. (Of course, this is dependent upon humans running the show, but it seems that we are most concerned with human suffering in this discussion anyway.)

In any case, humans are capable of reducing or mitigating the amount of suffering that we dish out among other species; and the suffering inflicted by one human upon another, can also be minimized and mitigated. I think that, outside of diseases/accidents causing physical suffering, many of the greatest cases of human suffering are mostly self-inflicted.

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I cannot deny tha... (Below threshold)

March 13, 2014 7:09 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by John Doe: | Reply

I cannot deny that the basal metabolic rate of human life seems to be a kind of striving or desire, but I don’t equate that with suffering.

Wow. Ok. Desire is the root of all suffering. It’s like the oldest wisdom human kind has to offer, but you want to argue against it in a comments thread? It’s the seed of enlightenment, according to the Buddha. I would challenge you to come up with a scenario in which pain and suffering exist apart from desire, because there isn’t one.

In fact, most people seem to get some pleasure out of it, however masochistic it may seem sometimes.
This is crucial idea in psychoanalysis, and the Lacanian term for the excess enjoyment produced by desire is jouissance. Jouissance play a structural role in maintaining the consistency of the symbolic network, the Big Other. Appropriately, it also figures prominently in the writing that appears on TLP. For example, in Hipsters on Food Stamps, when Alone talks about a barista whose feeling of superiority over MILFs in Northface jackets functions as the “systems” way to keep him making overpriced lattes, he’s talking about jouissance. “From this perspective, not only did he get blown, he enjoyed it even more.”) Importantly, jouissance in no way refutes the idea that desire and suffering are linked.
As for the one animal devouring another example, I think that is a false comparison.

How so? Again, this stuff comes from Schopenhauer, and I would encourage you to engage with The World as Will and Representation, where he lays a lot of this stuff out. But, in his absence, in might help to contextualize the example of an animal devouring another. He uses a whole bunch of examples like this to basically make the point that there is no such thing as “positive happiness” or “positive fulfillment,” that all happiness and fulfillment are only negatives––that is, they are the mere cessation of some pain. The devouring example is just one, but it really hits home because eating––imagine how you feel when you eat a burger––is no big deal. Sure, as consumers we like to dress it up and make a big deal out of it, but imagine what it must be like for a bear to consume a carcass. Pretty standard stuff. The everyday business of living. Similarly, you don’t wake up in the morning and feel your health; no, you just get up and go about your day. Unless, that is, your sick, in which case you feel your lack of health acutely. There are a whole bunch of these images in Schopenhauer, if you read it.

…the conclusion that the net vector summation of all life-experiences must be one of net suffering, doesn't follow.

If suffering is the BMR of human life, and all happiness is felt only negatively, as the absence of pain, then it makes zero sense to talk about net vector summations. Within desire, there is only suffering. The sooner you learn it the better.

Does 8 hours of -10 extreme suffering negate 8 years of +2 mild pleasure?

This is called hedonistic calculus and it’s the brainchild of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. It doesn’t work for obvious reasons, namely the fact that that kind of stuff in unquantifiable. Does 20 years of ice cream Sundays and Who’s the Boss cancel out nine months of enhanced interrogation in a Taliban prison camp? Who the fuck knows, the point is that both are only painful or pleasurable because of their relation to desire, and desire is the only thing humans experience as a positive condition of their existence.

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Unfortunately, I don't now ... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2014 6:20 AM | Posted, in reply to John Doe's comment, by someone: | Reply

Unfortunately, I don't now have the time for a fully considered reply, but I will state that I personally seem to experience positive pleasure and even joy out of everyday things such as eating, having sex, being around other people, exercising, etc. Even just waking up, stretching, getting out of bed and walking out into a nice sunny morning is a great feeling! It is funny, because all of the examples that you use are ones from which I derive active pleasure. Not the lack of desire, but active pleasure.

I don't know if my view of suffering vs. desire is one of kind or simply of degree, but to my mind, suffering is a much more intense thing, and one which one can not necessarily control.

I guess I could kind of see it as how you decide to draw your scale (to describe it mathematically again, just for illustration's sake). If my scale is from -10 (suffering) to +10 (happiness), and your scale is from -10 (suffering) to 0 (lack of suffering), we're really talking about the same scale. We can map from my scale to yours without any problems. The only difference is how we choose to describe things.

I can understand how the idea that "life is suffering, and happiness is simply the elimination of suffering" can be useful and illuminating in many circumstances, but it doesn't necessarily jibe with my everyday experiences.

To give an example, I have been moved to tears by purely aesthetic experiences such as listening to music or watching fireworks. If you want to say that this is only because the experience allowed me to forget all my troubles and experience a moment of transcendence, ok, but that's not what it feels like! I don't forget anything, I'm just simply overwhelmed by the beauty of it all and I find myself crying.

How would Schopenhauer explain a playful puppy, wagging his tail and playing with everything and seemingly full of pure energy and happiness and life? Does he dispute the existence of joie de vivre? Because I believe that I feel it pretty often! Sometimes I'll look at something... an object, or my hand or my arm. I'll move my hand around and look at the way the fingers move, see the muscles in my forearm and the creases in my palm, and I'll just marvel at it. What a wonder it is! How could I not be happy to have hands and arms, even if my knuckles crack and my wrists are painful sometimes, and sometimes my fingers go numb? Sometimes I really like to touch things made out of metal, and feel how smooth they are. I could do this for some time and get pleasure out of it.

Also, I'm not a scientist, but I'm pretty sure that there are brain chemicals that regulate pleasure and pain, and overall they tend to fall on the feel-good side. Endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, etc. Their presence is associated with happiness and good emotions, while their absence is associated with sadness and bad emotions. So on a chemical level, you could say that life is happiness, and the absence of happiness is suffering. There is no "positive suffering", it is simply the lack of sufficient happiness. Flop Schopenhauer on his head. It's a matter of perspective, and how you choose to define things.

Once again, I understand how the Buddhist formulation can be helpful. Especially since happy people don't really need help, while unhappy people do need help. Instruction on how to fix one's unhappiness is generally better received than instruction on how to become happy (which is really so simple, that it is usually just dismissed). You've got to make it clear to the unhappy people that you understand their pain and their struggle. A purely happiness-based approach is just going to offend and alienate them.

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>"How would Schopenhauer ex... (Below threshold)

March 14, 2014 6:46 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

>"How would Schopenhauer explain a playful puppy, wagging his tail and playing with everything and seemingly full of pure energy and happiness and life?"

I will caution that I am not read on Schopenhauer whatsoever so I cannot provide any shred of insight inasmuch as his points are (were) concerned. Consider, however, George Devereux's take here from Anxiety to Method in the Behavioral Sciences:


The organism’s need for response is a fact. Davis’ (1940) study of a socially isolated child and Mandelbaum’s (1943) summary of data concerning so-called “wolf children” prove that small children, denied social response for any length of time, are unable to develop certain “basic human traits.” Moreover, if the denial of responses occurs in early infancy, the infant, or baby monkey (Harlow 1962), either dies of marasmus or is psychologically crippled for life…

I would like to offer here that the negation of anxiety due to the puppy's social development is most likely what you perceive as happiness, anthropomorphically as it were.

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[url=http://www.softassembl... (Below threshold)

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dear god, the missing of th... (Below threshold)

March 21, 2014 5:32 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

dear god, the missing of the obvious burns.

first of all, putting a female face on things tends to make it feel more friendly. That's why every negative political ad puts a female voice behind the attack ads. It's seen as less threatening and less about power. She's also not officially connected to FB and therefore the trustworthy outsider. If Marc was out there saying "Everyone get on FB and post lots of pictures" it wouldn't work because people are thinking about how HE benefits, how HE's going to use the gigabytes of information that people post every day, or what HIS agenda is.

Secondly, the reason that they want everyone on Facebook, and posting those baby pictures is that it gives them control. Think of what they get with your every post. Your likes, your interests, your beliefs, your ideals. Everything is there, in your real name (hopefully with your real friends as well). In other words, they get massive amounts of marketing data, all for free, just by convincing the proles that it's a community. They also get you to do the marketing for them. You liked a product on FB, IMO you should get a goddamn check, because you're using your capital to sell someone else's shit for them. Let alone those stupid "contests" where you design a package or make a video to sell some product -- you *gave away* hours of your life -- for FREE. Of course they want your candy ass on FB hawking their wares and using your social credibility to do it. FB is a dream to marketers for those reasons. You get people to give up all kinds of free data on themselves, and you get them to promote your stuff for free. And in order to "keep it free" they get to make you look at ads. The TL;DR version is that Facebook is based on selling YOU, and the details of YOUR life, and making YOU watch ads. YOU are the PRODUCT. Her job is to make sure there's product to sell to her brother's advertiser clients.

They want FB at the office, or at least friending people from the office as a form of leverage. Sooner or later, given the nature of sharing, you'll accidentally share something that would be potentially embarrassing either to you directly or to your company. That's essentially a dossier against you, one that YOU have been tricked into building yourself. That one time you got drunk, yeah, that's there for your boss to see at the next round of layoffs. That time you played hooky but you checked in at a movie theater, or talked off-hand about seeing it the next day. Sharing in a way that just anyone can connect to you is giving away your leverage. You hand them the tools needed to get rid of you, to think less of you, to deny you employment. Why people do that is beyond me. Why would you spend all day on FB literally handing people the ability to hurt you, perhaps even daring them to do it?

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Realy thanks for this.... (Below threshold)

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"I would like to offer here... (Below threshold)

March 30, 2014 3:28 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by someone: | Reply

"I would like to offer here that the negation of anxiety due to the puppy's social development is most likely what you perceive as happiness, anthropomorphically as it were."

Of course I agree that it's anthropomorphic, but less so than if I were asserting that, say, a fish were happy.

But again, "the negation of anxiety due to the puppy's social development" -- how about "the creation of anxiety due to the lack of the puppy's social development"? Your statement assumes that anxiety is the norm, mine does not. I would assert that the "norm" in, say, a wolf pack, would be some standard level of socialization, and that wolf puppies do often exhibit the same "happy" behaviors as domestic puppies. Of course, if the circumstances happened that a particular puppy were orphaned or otherwise lacking in social development, of course it would live an anxiety-filled life (although there again, we're anthropomorphizing; is anxiety even the right word?)

Your implicit assumption is that for anything to be the norm/baseline for a creature, it would basically require the creature to be on its own throughout its life. Some sort of "pure genetics, no environment" approach. But the fact is, the norm/baseline for many species is life in a complex society from birth. Many of our genes are attuned to interacting with others in society, and if that interaction is lacking somehow during development, of course development will be stunted and the outcome will be less than ideal.

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You sir, are trolling.... (Below threshold)

April 2, 2014 11:54 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You sir, are trolling.

Please, do not feed the troll.

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Concerning the positive pai... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2014 9:07 PM | Posted, in reply to someone's comment, by John Doe: | Reply

Concerning the positive pain/negative pleasure dichotomy, there's a whole lot that I could say -- that Schopenhauer, again, does say -- to convince you of your own subjective experience, but of course none of it means much if you stand in your own way. I would just really encourage to examine your experience more carefully. Do you go about your life feeling elated that you are healthy, without consciously thinking about your health? How does that compare with your experience when you're sick? How does your experience of something mundane like walking compare when you're comfortable versus when there is a rock in your shoe? How about exercise, what's your experience there between being at 100% versus dealing with some kind of injury? How does being full compare to being hungry? In all of these situations, pain is responsible for introducing desire: the desire for health, the desire for comfort, the desire for sustenance. Without these desires, there would be no pain.

But again, "the negation of anxiety due to the puppy's social development" -- how about "the creation of anxiety due to the lack of the puppy's social development"?

Created by what? See, this is exactly the point -- without fulfilling the basic need for social fulfillment, the puppy dies. That anxiety isn't "created," it's biological: the puppy, like the human, is a social creature. Therefore, it has needs. (Eat. Shit. Socialize.) More needs = more pain. (House. Car. Timeshare.) Absent these needs, there is no such thing as "reality", there is no "self", there is no "life". Suffering is all there is.


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Well, I have been doing a l... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2014 3:13 PM | Posted, in reply to John Doe's comment, by someone: | Reply

Well, I have been doing a little reading up on Schopenhauer. Not much, but a couple of hours' worth. From my understanding, he posited that everything in the universe (including inanimate objects) experienced this Will/Desire (and thus was able to have it frustrated = Suffering). Thus, even chairs, rocks, Uranium atoms, and photons can have their Wills frustrated, and thus experience Suffering. In fact, this is the norm.

The application of this idea to human psychology just seems like a tautology. If you start with the metaphysical premise that Everything is Suffering, of course you will end up with the conclusion that Life is Suffering. It's a pointless discussion. I'm not willing to credit anything to this theory, which attributes will/desire to every object in the universe, and in fact seems to go against our modern views of science, atomic theory, and quantum theory.

If I am somehow misinterpreting Schopenhauer (most of what I read is snippets in commentary articles), please let me know.

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This is my second visit to ... (Below threshold)

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Sadly no money comes from d... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2014 8:29 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by anon: | Reply

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"The conventional wisdom is... (Below threshold)

June 25, 2014 6:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

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This is an excerpt from m... (Below threshold)

August 2, 2014 8:30 PM | Posted by Tru Harlow: | Reply

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The most effective methods of causing dissociation are believed to be those that consist of inflicting moderate amounts of pain over extended periods of time. Emotional trauma is also important.
The horrific experiences victims are exposed to result in their mind utilizing a defense mechanism called DISSOCIATION. Dissociation consists of the victims consciousness detaching from their bodies (or so it seems to them). The result is a euphoric floating feeling. DID caused by Beta programming only serves as the most drastic form of abuse which stimulates dissociation.

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The idea that shaming peopl... (Below threshold)

August 3, 2014 1:16 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by anon: | Reply

The idea that shaming people for their lack of material accomplishments will cure narcissism is insane. It's adorable when the far right decides it's the vanguard.

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why do you adore that, it s... (Below threshold)

August 3, 2014 5:27 AM | Posted, in reply to anon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

why do you adore that, it seems kinda weird

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Yes, it is weird. Not sure ... (Below threshold)

August 3, 2014 3:49 PM | Posted by : | Reply

Yes, it is weird. Not sure why I adore that, but I do. Well, at least a part of me. It's not something to be ashamed of.

Still, I surely need to think it over. I haven't payed enough attention. It's not really my thing you know.

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It's not that I want to dev... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2014 5:17 AM | Posted by J: | Reply

It's not that I want to devalue men, but it has crossed my mind that bravery and honesty at average is a feminine quality.

In any case, I believe we will progress - all of us.

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bravery and honest... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2014 5:33 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

bravery and honesty at average is a feminine quality

lmao

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Didn't mention anything abo... (Below threshold)

October 6, 2014 6:06 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Didn't mention anything about rationality on purpose..

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