Saturday, 18 February 2012

Worry, Be Happy

It is certainly a good thing to be happy (when that happiness isn't making you harvest human intestines for food, for example). This goes back to the standard antinatalist "no one wants suffering, so let's reduce suffering, okay?". It's not going to do a WHOLE lot for the human race, reducing your own suffering that is, but it's still a good thing, just as preventing a stranger being mauled in the fingers by a piece of paper is a good thing, though paper-cuts are not a major cause of suicide.*

But happiness isn't all ice cream and orgies. Well, it is, but there's more to it than that. If you really want to reduce suffering in the world, you can't just go around throwing new humans into existence, despite how they may indeed be the 'ultimate expression of love', and how it may make you happy for the rest of your life (though it probably won't). You can't go around pillaging villages and killing monks either, because despite how you will be making both you and a whole lot of Vikings happy, you are causing suffering, and you are violating consent. Happiness is like a psychotropic drug. Well, actually, it pretty much is from the chemical perspective of one's brain. But as far as the analogy goes, happiness is great fun, and you can share it with your friends, and you can space out and start writing about things you won't understand when you aren't happy. But also like a psychotropic drug, it can make you do things you are seriously going to regret if you don't stay lucid, worry as much as possible, and remember to hold on to your most firmly-held beliefs as much as possible before you experience the 'trip'.

Like Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder, you can experience unwanted mutations to your brain upon 'abuse' of psychotropic drugs (well, some of them). Happiness, on the other hand, results in, oftentimes, Happiness Persisting Perception Disorder, or as it is commonly called 'Always Looking on the Bright Side of Life'. What characterises this disorder? You begin to suffer from constant delusions - you believe that suffering is necessary for life, despite how you suffer increasingly less and less. You begin to feel that everyone is just as happy as you are, because you have forgotten what it means to feel horrifyingly normal. You believe that the future will fix everything - which could be true, but you do not consider the alternative situation that ending things right here, right now, would spare more suffering. Finally, in the late stages, you may believe that depression is completely fine, because there are a lot of tall buildings in the world. 

Optimism is only really fixed by constant exposure to antitoxins - to real statistics and photos and books showing the constant state of suffering that the vast majority of the human race are in. Only then can you stop yourself making incredibly stupid choices. Only then will you finally have control over your reproductive organs.

Antinatalism is the radical notion that more suffering is wrong.

*I am not stating here that it is possible to become happy. If you don't medicate yourself, or meditate for an inordinate amount of time, the likely thing is, you will stay at the same happiness level you have always been at throughout your life (for example: lottery winners return to the same happiness level within a month or two of winning the lottery). Happiness is a Stochastic Phenomenon (thanks again, Sister Y).


  1. Human minds, in a similar fashion to most things in the real world, tend towards equilibrium. Thus intense happiness at t=0 inexorably dries up after a short while, and intense sadness will normally burn itself out before very long.

    However, the human mind ALSO has a habit of caring more about the pleasure or pain at t=0 than the after effects (e.g. mood collapse or looking on the bright side, respectively).

    However, the human brain is also perfectly capable of overriding its myopia and seeing that immediate happiness or pain may not, in fact, be desired or avoided at all costs (respectively). Thus we have hope, the quintessential human delusion. If this were not so, we would not have athletes.

  2. Poignant article you wrote, estnihil: the vicious reality of it cannot be misheard, like the deafening thunder blast that reminds us that the light show in the skies is a deadly thunder.

    Life always is at someone's expense:
    • the other's if, you acquired that 'happiness' thing that rarely is given - by the other, willingly and out of his purse - to you
    • yours, if you didn't obtain that high of happiness to float over the hot coals that the engine runs on.

  3. Wonderful article, estnihil. You cut to the core of the issue superbly. Being happy (ie. above reasonable contentment levels) has always felt to me like taking a drug: I feel the high but I know there's something unnatural about it. Everything does ineed tend toward equilibrium, or perhaps below that. On a related note, here's a video from Inmendham from about two years ago where he touches on related topics, particularly toward the end. Well worth a watch:

  4. "Thus we have hope, the quintessential human delusion." This is so true. Sorry that I can't offer much more to say to that.

    "Life always is at someone's expense" - ah, this reminds me of the parasitism of life comment made by Inmendham in a lot of his videos. You can't live without hurting people, you can't die without hurting people. We are all in humongous Catch-22 situation - the only way out is collective cooperative suicide, and that's never going to happen. Or some sort of collective happy communal group, and there's still probably going to be social status and prejudice there etc., not to mention, maybe, work, so, things are screwed regardless.

    Thanks for the Inmendham video Karl, I always mean to watch more of his videos, but forget to. Also Karl, I'd say that I ALWAYS feel weird feeling in a better mood as well. It simply feels like I'm being even less like my non-existent self than I usually am.