Saturday, 28 July 2012

Robots, Human Expansion, Mechas and Suffering

I can't think of anything to say on antinatalism or suicide or any other topic that seems to pass through my mind these days, so instead of leaving this blog barren and lifeless, I'll proceed to tell you about the things I'm doing instead of enlightening you all, not that I could do that anyway.

I've been doing a lot of things recently, but the only things relevant to you I'm supposing are Blassreiter, and Robots and Empire.

Blassreiter is an anime that is a litle sub-standard in some respects, such as music and pacing (pacing is extremely fast), but is worthwhile from a Pessimistic point of view from 1. Its focus on the incredible suffering in the world - you see examples of this everywhere, and very little of the good in the world is offered to 'offset' it. 2. Its antivillain who seeks not to rule the world, but to end it so people no longer commit sin and suffer. 3. Its focus on forgiveness and guilt, and especially how everyone suffers: the person attacked and the person who attacks. It also has mechas and humans whose proteins have been modified to be ultra-cool looking by nanonmachines! But that's not relevant.

Robots and Empire is a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov. It lacks in - well it lacks. Isaac Asimov I love for his unique ideas, but I just think in some places his writing isn't the best at conveying emotion. I, Robot was a tough read at the start because of this. However, it has an interesting hypothesis: what if transhumanism were wrong, and all those long lifespans just led to boredom and the desire for death? What if death makes life good in that it makes relationships more meaningful, and makes life something that can be risked? That is basically what Asimov puts forward as an idea in this book. So far, I'm loving it. I find the dialogue extremely interesting, though the action leaves a lot to be desired.

I'll keep you posted when I come across anything I think would be of interest in the future. Bye for now!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

I don't particularly care if you believe me about antinatalism

Oh god would that it were true. I care so much what people say about antinatalism it has become a nervous compulsion like picking scabs for me to search on the internet for people badmouthing us. I don't mind people saying we're wrong (oh god I do, I really do), but when they start ad homineming all over the place I get all jittery. I am a horrible person. I say this because it's generally true - I do not meet the standards that most people would put on others to qualify as a true human being. That's mainly because of autism and hatred and depression and bla bla bla you know the drill. But when someone else says not only I, but everyone in this community are horrible people I crawl into a ball inside myself and don't come out for ages. And it's happened before. Once, but there's a lot of hostility in general towards us.

I like to think I'm a polite arguer. I'm not in real life, but on the land of the internet, I am quite mild-mannered. But as far as I can see we've got something of a reputation for being not open-minded and not listening to 'reason', and we use emotional arguments ALL THE TIME. I don't understand how that could be true. I've certainly never seen that going on. Is this all a case of "What you're arguing scares us/violates our most sacred truths, so we will subconsciously view you as a cunt"? Maybe the middle path is best. Maybe we've been a bit too ferocious? I doubt it. But if we have, it's hardly undeserved. I'm not a fan of tit-for-tat, but still, we get regularly abused in forums all the time. You get at least one insult per thread, minimum. And usually there's a lot more than that.

In any case what it comes down to is this: we have a bad rep. How do we fix it? Antinatalist Charity Campaigns? I don't really think we'll be able to fix it until the clouds clear and antinatalism becomes more well known - well known enough for us to stop being called a cult or deluded. Which may not ever happen. But in case it does, I'd say as soon as people stop subconsciously vilifying us, then involvement in actions to prevent human suffering (that aren't assisted suicide or sterilisation) might help our cause. But for the moment we can do NOTHING. est nihil (There is nothing) we can do.

You just want the pain to end

"No one wants to end their life, they just want the pain to end". I'm not sure what to make of this one. At first it sounds like another annoying anti-suicide-choice aphorism, but the more I read it the more I'm convinced it's mostly true. The majority of the mentally and physically ill out there longing for suicide would in fact live their lives had they not encountered such pain. But regardless you do have to take into account that suicide ends pain. It takes away every possible pleasure you could feel and in fact every emotion you could feel, but it still ends pain. I went into this in more detail in The Romanticism of Suicide, but essentially to those who have not read that yet, I see suicide as an extremely forceful solution, and like how you would not play a guitar with a knife, or hammer a nail in with a sledgehammer, you do not use it as a solution to everyday problems. The question remains however, do there remain any problems for which suicide COULD be potentially suitable? My answer to this is a definite yes, especially if the pain is chronic AND intense and waiting may end in death anyway - suicide as I said before, is a solution for problems that either cannot be solved traditionally or cause an extreme amount of pain.

What about this saying, then? Well, it is definitely true in all cases in which someone's problem is not life itself (as in, they hate life so much that it is a constant problem to live everyday and no other solution could suffice), but at the same time, this is not what people mean when they say this. They actually intend this to be a rebuttal to the suicidal masses who wish to end their lives - but it is sadly, not, as if you are using it in such a way, you are not taking into account that suicide actually does end pain, even if you forfeit your life. And for some people that decision is exactly what they are ready to make, as everyone values his or her life differently.

But of course if you are reading this and have not been suicidal for a long enough period, and cannot prove you are of calm mind relating to suicide, DO NOT GO THROUGH WITH IT. Suicides done on impulse mean you lack meaningful consent. They are also something you would not have done had you actual consent, meaning it is in your best interests to wait out your suicidal thoughts, (as well as in my best interests, because I have empathy for you).

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Don't sacrifice your children to the Sun God

I find it hard to feel strongly about anything these days. But I still feel, in a sense, outrage when I think about some of the things that religious people are allowed to do. I think it's a fine thing to be religious, and I think you ought to have the right to do with yourself as you please (as long as it hurts no one else etc.), but when you force things onto to children, who probably (maybe not in the case of child geniuses) cannot give consent - not that consent would matter in this case as you'd force them into it anyway - you are impacting heavily on freedoms you would strongly defend if it were you in the place of your own children. I will provide three major examples: Indoctrination, Circumcision and Fasting. All three of these violate the consent of the child, and two of them cause suffering from the outset.

Indoctrination annoys me quite a lot. Not only because it creates yet more zombies hellbent on procreating this world into a nest of ants, with each of us crawling over one another to get by, but because having a religion is a sufficiently large enough decision that indoctrination will always be felt as a breach of rights. You may argue that parents can act 'by proxy' to consent for their children, but in this case doing so easily allows cults to spread, and for children to suffer nightmares from visions of hell and such. Clearly since this involves suffering, consent does matter. Is it not better to simply wait until the child is older to let them decide about matters of religion? Also consider a person forcibly brainwashes you into believing in his or her religion. Would you not protest against such a thing happening? Why don't you stop the same thing happening when you do it to your own child?

Circumcision is pretty easy to argue against: if someone held you down and cut off your earlobe, without anaesthesia, would you sue them? Is that clearly not assault? Does the consent by proxy argument work here? No, because clearly this is a matter that brings real suffering and is completely and utterly useless. If a parent can consent to circumcise their child, then a parent can consent to mutilate their child in any way they want as long as it heals eventually and doesn't bring lasting harm. Even if it brought no suffering, the fact that it can go wrong, and little boys can suddenly find themselves becoming more like little girls overnight, means that something for little to no reason can result in life-changing consequences. It's okay to get circumcised later on in life of course, and I don't see why a religious delusion has to be upheld like this just because we're afraid to step on a few toes.

Forcing kids to fast is something a lot of atheists don't address, but which annoys me all the same. That's the same thing as forcing them to suffer - for little to no reason at all, again. It is DIRECTLY forcing them to suffer, as constant hunger is exactly the same thing. As with all these things, it is barbaric - a relic of times when people had to show in-group loyalty fiercely as food was scarce. The nomadic Abrahamic religions' cruelty I suspect can all be traced back to these conditions.

Don't mutilate your children, don't let them starve, don't brainwash them, and don't sacrifice them for a good harvest next year. Be religious, but remember that greater powers than your imaginary beings should bind you at all times.

EDIT: Think I was wrong on the indoctrination part - it's committing harm because you're forcing them to believe in scary lies, but not forcing them to believe in barbaric rituals could also be considered a harm. It's a Catch-22 situation. Indoctrination is bad only if a scientific study proves religious from birth happier than atheist/agnostic from birth.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Romanticism of Suicide: When Is it Ever Justified?

Dedicated to Handan, whom I assume is resting in peace.

Logical Suicide Versus Emotional Suicide
Suicide for many of us has become a playful fantasy - an intense dream glimmering with a romantic aura. Even at my most anhedonic, my body can still yearn for suicide as if it requires it to 'go on', even if I experience no pleasure from fantasising about it. 

But what people have to realise first and foremost if you have a mental illness, is that suicide is not your traditional escape. It erases a lot of problems, but at the same time it erases you. The first question a would-be suicide must ask themself is whether, if their problems were solved, would they continue to live? The answer in most cases is probably a yes, whether begrudgingly or not. But using suicide as a solution could be the same as using a sledgehammer to knock in a nail in some cases. Suicide, as far as I see it, can only be logically applied for problems that either cause too much suffering or cannot be solved. It is not wise, I hope we can agree, to commit suicide when one enjoys life but has just contracted a stomach flu, because it furthers one's goals and desires more than it fulfills the need not to suffer. Also in this case, it would most likely be emotionally based. What I believe I came across on an anti-suicide (but not a anti-suicide as most are) website once still holds: if you are really prepared to make the biggest decision of your life, then why aren't you prepared to wait for a few days at least to see if you'll reconsider? Suicide is a monumental decision, and hence people should be aware that to some extent they cannot trust their own judgement on it without a good amount of time passing them by. It is also not wise to commit suicide when you have failed your exams, because although your future income may now be lower, you won't suffer to any extreme length due to this. This problem may also be solved by simply retaking those exams, instead of being solved by suicide, the all-purpose cleanser.

Fitting those Requirements

A pen-pal (I think that's the word for e-mail friend) of mine recently committed suicide, and in her case she did not have a mental illness so much as an existential illness. While she was wide awake, performed excellently with a guitar and had long-distance running as a hobby, and most certainly felt pleasure in her life, she could not get past in life her insurmountable hatred for the way things are in the world. This is what I can glean from her past replies to my e-mails, in any case. Her problem was one that could never have been solved in the first place without either the power of a deity or an extremely realistic virtual reality machine. It was also an illness that was causing her quite a bit of suffering; she could not go through the day without hating the world more and more, without despising the desperate void of nothingness and the unthinking masses and the suffering all around us. If she was bad at anything, she was bad at self-delusion. And again, that is an insolvable problem for one whose values do not allow a change in this.

I did what I said you should always do when you come across a suicidal person: try to convince them not to. But after we came to the understanding that she had been this way for quite some time, I decided to simply support her decision.*

If you're wondering why I haven't discussed the relevance of family and friends, new readers, it's because I've already done so in other posts, mainly this one. Along with that, Franc had an excellent article on the same subject, which I am prone to using to argue with people on the matter.

*Don't hate me for not calling the cops on her for expressing her long-lasting belief about what would be best for her. I couldn't in any case as she lived in a different country.