Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

What do I know?  §

I’ll tell you what I know. I know nothing. The only people who know less are the people who claim to know something. The only people who have less are the people who claim to have something.

Happiness is a death trap.

Individual death.

Familial death.

Social death.

Environmental death.

Planetary death.

The faithful seek happiness under the mistaken belief that no harm comes from it—that, in fact, it is divine. It is not divine. It is the death of the human race. In pursuit of happiness we have destroyed, continue to destroy, and will ultimately and finally destroy, the only sentient life within innumerable light years of our planet, perhaps in the known universe and across all of time.

It is a chemical state and series of biofeedback mechanisms that causes us to pursue ends that were survival-positive throughout the bulk of human history when our population was not beyond carrying capacity, numbered in the thousands or a few million, not in the many billions and growing exponentially.

No-one will memorialize us when we are gone.

I am getting older. Much older. The last few years have done more to age me than all of the previous years combined. I aged maybe 10 years in my first 23 years. I have aged at least the remaining 23 years over the last 10.

By the time many men and women die, they are a hundred, or a thousand, despite being in their seventies or eighties.

Age isn’t a matter of time. Time is a social construct. Age is a matter of experience, of what happens to you. In a place that socially constructs time as we do, there is a happening once per second, or at least once per year. These accumulate.

But the fundamental relationship is an event-based relationship; age is a matter of what has happened to you, not of externalities.

Some days I add an entire year.

I am going gray. It is the funniest thing to be going grey. I forget it’s happening. I suppose it’s the analogue to those who go bald, or who suffer from receding hairlines.

For a long time, I could ignore it; the gray hairs weren’t obvious. They were, instead, limited in number and out of the way so that other people had to tell me they were there.

“You have a gray hair! Just there! Here, look in the mirror. Can you see it? I promise, it’s there!”

For a long time, I couldn’t see it.

These days I can see all of them. There are a lot of them. I couldn’t see any when I came to New York. Now there are more than I can count.

I am, quite simply, going gray.

You can’t argue about the nature of reality with people. Reality is what it is for them, as they experience it. To talk metaphysics, someone has to buy into the concept of ‘a metaphysics’ in the first place.

Most don’t.

That’s one of the vexing bugbears with which metaphysics has always had to cope. It is not a science but precisely an anti-science, and for that reason many put it into the same box as the occult, the supernatural. I know that as a kid, I understood ‘metaphysics’ to be vaguely related somehow to the study of ghosts and psychics.

Sad and emblematic of the dying culture in which I was raised.

For most, a second is quite simply a second. You can’t explain to them that for nearly all of human history there was no such concept; it was always there. A car is easier; they’ll readily admit that cars were ‘invented’ and changed the world, and thus that cars aren’t an ‘essential’ part of reality, but something humans came up with.

Seconds, minutes, hours, miles, longitude, latitude, and the very notions of ‘truth’ and ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ and ‘holy’ and ‘unholy’ on the other hand? Despite the fact that in the larger course of human history, all of these are as brand-spanking-new for humanity as the concept of a ‘car’ or a ‘computer’ is, for some reason people can’t accept their relativity.

“If you drop a ‘car’ into the middle of the Amazon jungle with no ‘modern’ people around anywhere, in the roadless, densely vined-and-treed morass of naked native peoples thousands of miles from ‘civilization’ who have never, ever even seen an outsider, does it still have its carness?” I ask my students each semester. They have trouble with a word like ‘carness’ at first, but eventually they tend to decide amongst themselves that for something to have ‘carness,’ to be a ‘car,’ the people that encounter it actually have to know what it is, know what it’s for, and be able to use it for movement.

It is tough to have ‘carness’ in a place where metal hasn’t even been invented yet, where there is no concept of transportation or the need to travel, no method of fueling it, and no place to drive it without running into one or many tall jungle trees, nobody who even realizes that you are meant to climb ‘inside’ it and ‘use’ it in some way. In the deepest Amazon jungle, they always tend to conclude after much discussion, a car has very little ‘carness’ but is instead just a giant hung of solid stuff that sits there, immobile, like a shinier, transparent, and tremendously peculiar rock.

Somehow they are always unable to reach the same conclusion about time, or about God, despite the fact that humanity has existed for several hundred thousand years, but linear time and the Christian God as ideas for only a few hundred, or at most a couple thousand.

They can’t let go of the notion that a second is a second is a second anywhere you go, for anyone you encounter, even if a car isn’t a car unless it’s in a car-enabled civilization.

People love their metaphysics.

I suppose it stands to reason. Without a solid metaphysics, their entire world, belief system, and way of explaining to everyone else around them why they are right, good, and special as a being, is lost.

Without a solid metaphysics, nothing is special.

Nothing is, in fact, real—apart from raw, animal sensation and action, the very antitheses of civilization.

On a different but related note:

Diplomacy is in fact the slowest path to peace. History bears this out. War is, in fact, much faster.

Not only that, but the very possibility of peace is increased through war, conflict, and violence but hamstrung by its absence.

War is, in fact, peace, despite the protestations of Orwell fans.

The natural state of humankind isn’t war and it isn’t peace; it’s dumb nonlinear punctuated thresholding and dialexis. Up and down and up and down and left and right and left and right.

You want peace? You want stasis? You’ll have to do something decidedly nonhuman—decidedly inhuman, in fact—to get it. Like, maybe, war.

Totalitarianism is the only avenue to peace. Democracy was born in war and violence, breeds war and violence, is sublimated war and violence, and recalls war and violence in its metaphors.

Democracy is, as I said once in public, the sublimation of conflict, not its absence. For some, sublimation is ideal. For others, sublimation is not enough. Progress is transformation; transformation is accomplished, by definition, by becoming something that you are not.

Where I stand on this matter I remain uncertain. Is it better to be what you are, even if what you are is a suffering-experiencing and suffering-causing machine? In short, a social actor that is mortal and that is imbued with an anti-mortality instinct?

Or is it better to try to become what you are not? To try to, in short, change what you are?

Acceptance or transcendence. That has always been the question. That remains the question, I suppose, though the secondary question is what direction such transcendence will take, if you choose it (the thing that separates, for example, ‘social liberals’ from ‘social conservatives’).

But at the end of the day, the other question is first: tolerance or self-negation?

Before any fucking hippie condemns the self war, keep in mind that if the fundamental nature of the self is to suffer and to cause suffering (and, in the case of the masses, to understand nothing at all about anything, being, in short, no different from a mushroom or a sea cucumber), is self-negation so bad?

The first step in becoming ‘more’ is to develop the capability to juxtapose it against ‘less.’

That doesn’t, of course, do anything to answer the fundamental value question.

Neither will this post.

Things that are lost as you age:

* Friends

* Dreams

* Possibilities

* Freedom

* Independence

* Indulgence

* Innocence

* Creativity

* Focus

* Intensity

I used to think that the immediate, aggressive bouts of sadness at circumstances and events that I felt were the worst thing that could possibly happen to a human.

There is, unfortunately, a deeper set of sadnesses that come with calm and maturity, those very things that you imagine (as a young person) that mitigate any and all sadnesses and render the “adults” of the world forever less sympathetic in youthful eyes.

These are the sadnesses of metaphysics, of irreconcilable realities. Not different ‘versions’ of truth, but fundamentally different universes. You can argue with someone about ‘which’ truth is truth and still be within the realm of culture, interaction, adapatation, mutuality.

Once you start to dispute the fundamental context of the interaction, there is nothing left to do.

More sad than break-ups or loneliness are simply ‘the ways people are.’ The people you know. The people you love. The vast gulfs of distance that come to separate you, that are insurmountable and that are also uncrossable because the metaphysical ‘locations,’ the metalongitudes and metalatitudes that you adapt are matters not merely of opinion, but of your very functioning and awakeness in the world. Without them, you are not, so it would do no good to try to change them for someone else, to help them to ‘have’ you, since you would cease to exist before they managed to do so anyway.

Closing thoughts:

1. Knowledge is despair.

2. There is no knowledge deeper than social knowledge.

3. There is no ‘objective’ God.

4. There is no ‘objective’ anything.

5. I sometimes wish I was an idiot.