The largest popular undercurrents of western and eastern though run counter to one another.
One is fundamentally cynical (perhaps not the one many might imagine). It posits from the outset that you will not have what you want. Not the wealth, not the health, not the control, nor the freedom. The path to contentment thus lies in the ability to stop wanting.
The other is neither cynical nor particularly optimistic. It is rather ruthlessly empirical, making no claims about anything that has not yet happened. You may achieve some of the things you want, if you exercise your will. This exercise, collectively, appears to be unavoidable as a mode of society once it appears in any one sector and begins to overrun the rest. The cynicism of this undercurrent is also empirical—it rips everyone and everything to shreds, but for a very tiny percentage of wants fulfilled.
I don’t know what I’m getting at here. My head is full of feelings instead of thoughts today, I think. Memories of things I’d rather forget, sensations that I don’t think many others even realize they experience, things I refuse to take for granted.
This last one is perhaps the most important single characteristic of my personality.
There are rather a lot of things in the world I refuse to simply take for granted or to simply accept as inevitable. All inescapable causes are previous choices made for precisely the same reason—apparently inescapable causes. Yes, I realize that to some extent these are deterministic unless one is to act irrationally.
But that is exactly what I propose to do. I feel as though I have spent an entire lifetime trying to justify and argue for irrational action and irrational concepts: loyalty, love, sacrifice, commitment, honor. These are the pre-enlightenment, pre-rational, pre-instrumental foundations of a world that finally crumbled entirely in the 20th century.
I am not here to sentimentalize the past so much as I am to condemn the present, and to applaud irrationality and all action that refuses to serve the self’s instrumental aims. To all those people over the years with whom I have had relationships, who attempted to rationally adjudicate their contours according to an individual measure of rational self interest, and who assumed that I would do the same…
And also to all those who over so many years explained over and over to me that I was a waste of potential with no understanding of the ways in which it can be leveraged, who accused my lack of efficiency and rational self-administration…
And also to all those who have ever bemoaned my lack of good socialization, my lack of manners, my lack of anything that makes any kind of sense or correctness from any perspective…
Oops. I guess you feel silly now.
(And probably will again).
Down with rational self-interest. Down with instrumental rationalism. Down with modernity. Down with individuality. Down with every ecliptic, elliptic, satellite, and locus of the causal nexus!
Humankind only lived when they lived well, died well, and were buried young. These days we don’t live; we function optimally or suboptimally according to fully elaborated and deterministic schema.
I don’t know what I’m talking about any more. Maybe I just want pounds of flesh from lots of people who tried to hold me back but whom I’ve long since surpassed. Maybe I just want sport.
Maybe I just want to thrash about irrationally for a page or so.
(The tyrant in me rather thinks that free will and especially “free” action mark the absolute end of happiness.)