addiction

All posts tagged addiction

[Updated: 15/03/2014.]


“What does it feel like?”


“That’s irrelevant—but ask your question.”


“What’s irrelevant?”


“The feeling of a thing.”


“Why?”


“Because, like the tides, they come and go—do you monitor and name the tides?”


“No.”


“What do you do about the tides?”


“Nothing. You just become aware of them, and intuitively adapt to them, like anything…right?”


“You tell me if that’s right.”


“It is right. So why didn’t you answer my question?”


“Ask it again.”


“What does it feel like?”


“What does what feel like?”


“Drugs?”


“What kind of drugs? That one I took?”


“That one.”


“What, like anti-psychotics?”


“No.”


“Anti-depressants?”


“No!”


“Ummm…well, we have valium and the benzodiazepines, thorazine and other anti-psychotics, tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, SSRI—”


“Now you made that one up…”


“Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors? No, didn’t make that up.”


“Anti-depressants aren’t bad…”


“What do you know of them? Have you examined what they do to the brain?”


“They restore chemical balance.”


“Yes—and no, but they actually rewire the brain. It’s not wise to brazenly mess with substances that affect serotonin levels in the brain…”


“Why not?”


“Lots of reasons. Here’s one. Balance—melatonin. Here’s another: SSRI discontinuation syndrome. What causes that? Why would you crash like a junkie off these SSRIs? What is serotonin? What does it supposedly do naturally? How can you give a blanket drug, to restore balance in something whose cause is dubious, to treat some nebulously individual illness called ‘depression’ anyway? I mean, this ‘illness’ is barely understood. What if it’s misunderstood? What if it’s not an illness? What if it’s all a shitty side-effect of living shittily? What if most of its causes are naturally preventable? Why are we letting these people mess with our brain chemistry?”


“I’m not sure. Big pharma is big business.”


“Yes, but no more questions on brain chemistry until you’ve done some basic research.”


“But why do you call it bad?”


“What’s bad now? Look, everyone does drugs—everyone has drugs in them, produced by the brain. We find complex ways to trigger these drugs, and then we give the process a name—”


“Like what?”


“Fun?”


“Okay, that’s one.”


“Happiness? Bliss? A good time? Fun?”


“But aren’t those natural emotions to have from everyday human experiences?”


“And sometimes we attach an adjective to the feelings of the experience: that was awesome!”


“Ugh, what was awesome?”


“That was. That thing we did—remember when we rode our bikes over that jump?”


“No—but you want me to pretend we did. Well, I have in fact experienced something like that—”


“Was it fun?”


“Yes.”


“Was it awesome?”


“Uh-huh. So?”


“So, you got high. High off a drug. You were getting a chemical cocktail in your head from doing something that you knew was going to be ‘fun.'”


“So?”


“So, you conspired with yourself to take drugs.”


“What!?”


“We manipulate things, objects—and occasionally people—and invent situations in our lives in which we effect a feeling, called feeling good. What’s the difference between this and filling up a syringe of heroin and injecting yourself?”


“Oh my god, are you saying it’s bad to feel good?”


“I’m applying no ethical standard upon the process itself—I’m merely pointing out that arranging things to make yourself feel good is no different than another person arranging things so that he can feel good. Some people pig out on chocolate to get high. Some people have a lot of sex. Some people watch a lot of chemical-triggering television, or play video games. Some people laugh all day long—they’re the happiest ones of all. They’re up there with smack-bangers, crackheads, and smokers.”


“Hmmm. So, you’re calling all these people—?”


“—all of us—”


“Hmmm. So, you’re calling all of us junkies?”


“I’m calling no one no name. I’m examining our behaviours.”


“So what’s your problem with drugs?”


“I have no issue with drugs as tools. What is a drug used as a tool? Medication. Medicine.”


“Well, I never really thought about it, but I suppose we are all getting high on a daily basis—”


“We’re flying high and crashing all the time. Sugar, caffeine, booze, pills, food; we’re getting buzzes driving our cars, from insulting someone and laughing. From laughing itself. From shouting. From the Ah-ha! reaction. If we’re active we’re getting adrenaline, too. We’re getting serotonin and oxytocin when we’re getting cozy with chicks, and we’re getting memetic hits from teaching and from learning—”


“Learning?”


“We’re getting chemical rewards, yes, for teaching, for learning, but we get these naturally with things that generally help us survive from generation to generation.”


“Like for sex—procreation stuff?”


“Right. That’s an extreme example.”


“So, if all of us are all junkies anyway, what does it matter what drugs we do?”


“It matters if you desire your life to turn out a train-wreck, or something more stable—or even something vaguely natural.”


“Vaguely natural?”


“One would want completely natural, but I doubt we’re all ready for that—people have no fucking clue about this stuff—-, so the best we could hope for is somewhat balanced.”


“What are we now?”


“Oh, somewhat damaged? Somewhat sick?”


“So what is a natural balance?”


“Oh, you don’t want to hear about that…”


“Hmmm?”


“Well, the trouble with modern man is that he’s trapped in a system that’s manipulating his biology and chemistry, inducing behaviours and personal ways of life that contradict good normal natural health.”


“Okay, well, how long has man been a total addict?”


“Back to the neolithic age—just before agriculture…well, some think it went hand in hand. So, 8 thousand years and a bit. I reckon. If you’re meaning total regarding his basic level of overall pathology, you can trace it back that far, but looking at any recently ‘primitive’ people whose tribe has been, or is being, destroyed by alcoholism will give you a good overview on what develops.”


“No way.”


“Dude, look up alcohol’s history—look up the Opium Wars in China—look at the fields in Afghanistan.”


“No!”


“Sigh.”


“You can’t just say, sigh.”


“It is unwise to tell your elder what he can and cannot say.”


“True. So, let’s go back to this stupid natural balance?”


“What about it?”


“Aren’t you going to say it’s not stupid?”


“Do you always answer a question with a question?”


“Do you?”


“Can I answer while asking you what is stupid?”


“If I told you stupid was not intelligent, would you have your answer?”


“No, I would not.”


“Why?”


“Because then I would have to ask you what intelligence was—but I’m not asking that, now am I?”


“What?”


“Without referring to its opposite, can you define ‘stupid?'”


“Uh…I dunno.”


“And now you have your answer, too.”


“What?”


“You said, So, let’s go back to this stupid natural balance? And now you have your answer. Well, now you can formulate the correct question.”


“Ummm…”


“Here: So, can we get back to this ‘natural balance?'”


“Okay, okay.”


“Okay what? What’s an example of balance?”


“Dude…”


“How about the tides? Is that a balance of water?”


“I suppose.”


“And the weather, the seasons…”


“What about it.”


“It would seem that the entire solar system is in balance with it self, as is each sphere within its own system.”


“What?”


“Chaos and order. Chaordicus ad perpetuum…”


“Yeah, and…?”


“How about an atom? Is there balance in those things?”


“I don’t know! I guess so.”


“Ever ask a drunk why he drinks?”


“No—have you?”


“I have. There’s no balance here—fucking why? What it comes down to is (a) a painkiller—shame killer—and (b) changing a feeling.”


“Wouldn’t it also be (c) escape?”


“Would it be?”


“Well, lots of people do that on a daily basis without drugs. Fantasy. As in living in a…”


“Delusion.”


“Exactly. Maybe escape is number three, but it tasks us this question: escape from what?”


“Reality.”


“And what is that?”


“What is Reality.”


“An idea in the eternal mind of God.”


“No, that was Rome. You’re quoting Spartacus.”


“I was quoting Crassus from Rome. Then why is madness an effect caused by seeing the face of God?”


“Because that’s…knowing God’s mind?”


“I dunno. Knowing All? Madness is half of All.”


“Perhaps, but that’s not the point here.”


“Alright, alright. What about (d) freedom?”


“Freedom? Freedom to do something or freedom from being denied something?”


“Both—men also drink to burst out of their rigidly feminized, control-freaked, politically correct world—”


“Yes, okay, that’s true. Explain how that works…”


“You know better than I do…”


“Well, this falls under ‘escape’ as far as I’m concerned, but not the sort of escape people think—it’s not about escaping problems you can’t deal with and would rather get loaded and flee, if only temporarily. No, this sort of escape is about breaking free of one’s programming and tight restrictions in society—read: feminization. Political correctness. Smiling, and small talk, and polite horseshit. All of which is a control system, an oppression matrix designed—I think—to cause mental illness, ultimately, and primarily in men.”


“So, what happens when such a person drinks?”


“He’s free to be a jerk, essentially. To not care. To not censor himself, or just not worry about being censored. He can now hoot and shout and growl and cackle and say shit he would never say otherwise—over which, in the morning most often, if he remembers it, he will feel immense shame.”


“So that’s why the most self-controlled and self-regulated among us make the most savage drunks?”


“I’d say so. Well, those with the most rage bottled up become the worst drunks once it’s unleashed.”


“Okay, let’s get back to the main point here…”


“The main point is that long ago substances were taken for vision quests—and today it’s all being used against us. It rarely turned us into junkies, and now we’re a gender of addicts. And it wasn’t a common ritual. You could spend ten hours in a steam tent, fast for a couple of days, then take some peyote. Or a mushroom.”


“Why?”


“To see things from a different perspective—sometimes envision what will come—and to perhaps gain insight into yourself and your place in the world. Also, even back then we understood the value of getting out of our strict, rational minds (our left brains) and seeing beyond…way beyond.”


“But that can be done without tripping out.”


“Tripping out, as you so elegantly call it, is about an intense physiological right-brain experience. When we smoke weed, our rational mind, our self-control, is diminished. And perception is enhanced.”


“Yeah, well, that’s good and bad.”


“How so?”


“Because THC is also a state of affect changer.”


“Well, yeah. I’ve had to take years off it because it got hard to stop. And I became more and more lethargic.”


“Didn’t get much done?”


“A lot, in fact, creatively speaking, but the rest of my life suffered. So did my health. Too much.”


“Would you agree that drugs are a cheat?”


“That’s one point of view. Here’s what I experienced. In my 20s, I could barely draw and could not write at all while I was stoned. The logical, word-based part of my brain being subdued prevented me from forming coherent sentences. As for art, I eventually managed to draw stuff, but the trouble was that I had too many ideas, and not enough focus and concentration—while stoned—to finish a single project. As well, I tended towards right-brained art—little detail and more bigger picture, overall ideas. I had to quickly rough-out an idea for a drawing before I ran out of patience and before my mind wandered onto the next idea. Then I would, later, not high, work on the detail of the out-lined work I had started while high.”


“Were all your ideas good ones?”


“No. Most were. Maybe eighty percent.”


“How did you learn to write?”


“It was a mental workout—the same trick to forcing myself and struggling hard to focus on one idea and write it out…well, it goes back to thinking itself. I believed—and still do believe—that you can expand your capacity for thought, not just enlarge your perceptive capacity, by crippling your ability to think clearly and then sort of thrashing about inside your mind to furiously grab hold of an idea and stick with it, explore, think about it deeply, and then document your ideas and thoughts. The results were not noticed until I got off weed for a while and found that my overall ability to think had improved. I liken it to weight-training your muscles…”


“But was it cheating?”


“Cheating is about making things easierI was about making it all harder! No one grows or develops when things are safe, comfortable, or easy—no wonder the world’s never seen a female genius.”


“What do you mean?”


“Well, there have been some women are getting up there now, but, as a group, women are massively practical, reasonable folks; they don’t take risks, and their logical minds and huge egos don’t allow them to endure much hardship by choice. They don’t grow much this way. They stay little girls. Indeed, the few great women there have been did not become this way by choice, or through normal up-bringing and long stints in university—school retards growth—it was forced upon them. They were forced to adapt, to look deep inside, to change and grow. To figure things out on their own, with not much help. Genius is a ragged, tempered chunk of steel pounded and beaten and pressured into becoming a shining, razor-sharp sword. Given the choice, almost all women will remain little girls—safe and secure and coddled with every little whim indulged—and this goes for most men today too. Like the sayings go: Calm waters do not make great sailors; if something is difficult, it is worth doing—if it’s too easy, it is not worth doing at all. Strong trees are not forged in safety—they grow strong by being tested in storms and ill conditions; and the rigid branches snap in such winds, while the flexible ones remain. It’s no different than the human mind…”


“So, what does this have to do with drugs?”


“Drugs are the storm for the tree. Don’t you see? It’s just a tool—and a test. We used to use it and not become slavering pigs, or sketchy back-ally shadows, shambling after cigarette butts. We used to know what we were doing, but now we’re lost little boys. That which causes addiction is to be regarded as distinct from the substances themselves. I think it should be used in extreme moderation, perhaps ritually. And I think long periods of time off all substances, except medicine, is preferred.”


“If your spirit is sick, take some medicine to fix it?”


“Well, we used to know every natural medicine in the forest, for whatever was wrong with us. Physically and spiritually. The thing is that the spiritual fix needs understanding of the problem to be capable of fixing anything. It is a tool, the work must come from man.”


“What if the wound is massive?”


“Then the person will spend more time killing the pain of that than he will be pursuing the truth of his illness, his overall state and environment and how it’s all related.”


“So, the more wounded, the more shamed, the more vulnerable to addiction?”


“Yes. I’d say: the more shamed, the more wounded. But remember: when you hurt inside, it is caused by the ego and nothing else. It is only that monstrously greedy baby inside you that’s screaming. The baby that is your ego. Adults are not formed until that ego is kept in check, ‘annihilated,’ so they say. Adults do not happen by chance or as a result of following an A-B-C progression of one’s chronology. It’s only when we start to battle our egos that we start to grow up. I think when people talk of the ‘false being within,’ it is this they are talking about—killing the child within. The child within is the false being within because it was supposed to die and we were supposed to grow up, but it never took place. Modern thought has duped us into believing that we must embrace the child within. But who benefits from this absurd and reckless act? Novices who are fucking about in our heads. Psychologists, prisons, ‘wellness’ groups, New Age snake-oil salesmen, and all other shysters, scam-artists, and self-help fuckheads who profit from our continued, generational mass misery…”


“So we need to get away from that which is wounding us in the first place.”


“How is that done while we spend most of our time and money on pleasure—the opiate of the wounded—?”


“I’m not sure.”


“One way might be for the addict to cling to one addiction while he severs himself from the source of all the others, and begin to build up a strong sense of self denial.”


“Huh?”


“If he could be put to serious study or doing something creative during this pseudo-fast, isolated, not enjoying it so much and forced to think, here, at least, we would have something.”


“But if he was isolated from—”


“From his tribe? Ask any junkie who’s gone through rehab; they tell you to distance yourself from your enablers. So what if your entire tribe is your enabler?”


“Then he has to leave the tribe.”


“Until he’s gained enough self-respect through self-denial that he can return to them and not be tempted. But if his tribe is that sick, I don’t know if he can manage for long.”


“So, let’s review. Chemical reactions in the brain are off-whack for a variety of reasons. Added to this assorted hormonal problems, alienation and guilt and shame, and a social culture that likes its booze and drugs, what does that make?”


“A pretty straight-forward cycle of generational addiction.”


“And so not all drugs are bad?”


“When used in moderation and at the advice of the shaman or some reason facsimile, no. And when in doubt, go natural.”


“And use common sense.”


“In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said: ‘No prophet is acceptable in his village; a physician does not heal those who know him.'”


“Indeed. He also said, (28) I stood in the midst of the world, and I appeared to them in flesh. I found them all drunk, I found none among them thirsting; and my soul was afflicted for the sons of men, for they are blind in their heart and they do not see. For empty came they into the world, seeking also to depart empty from the world. But now they are drunk. When they have thrown off their wine, then will they repent.'”

Nihilium: “Now what?”

Gornok: “Huh?”

Nihilium: “What’s your problem?”

Gornok: “No problem. Why?”

Nihilium: “Just looking at the title, thinking you’re about to rant about something…so obviously something’s wrong.”

Gornok: “Nope. Doing well. Satisfied, content, fulfilled, for now. Just been thinking.”

Nihilium: “About…?”

Gornok: “Life.”

Nihilium: “No kidding? What about life?”

Gornok: “Why? That’s what about life.”

Nihilium: “Awww…you depressed or something, pal?”

Gornok: “No. I just said everything’s great. I just don’t understand life.”

Nihilium: “What’s to understand. Life is life.”

Gornok: “Maybe, but why?”

Nihilium: “Why what?”

Gornok: “Why does life exist?”

Nihilium: “Sounds like your questioning life because you’re really questioning your life…”

Gornok: “Why is that when people question something, other people have to search for ulterior motives or attack the person on some psychological grounds?”

Nihilium: “I dunno. So, get to your point…”

Gornok: “I’m not questioning being alive compared to being dead, I’m questioning being organic matter compared to being inorganic matter!”

Nihilium: “Come again?”

Gornok: “Why be a tree or a mouse when you can be a cloud, or a mountain?”

Nihilium: “Ugh, I’m not sure. It’s just the way it is.”

Gornok: “That’s no answer.”

Nihilium: “Well. What do you want me to say? I never thought about this shit before. Life is life, non-life is non-life.”

Gornok: “Life just seems to be a useless dumb mess. Think about it. Life is a sloppy, stinking, slimy, goopy, sticky, disgusting mess. A greasy, noisy, smelly, cold, chunky, mushy, invasive fucking mess. A futile, screaming, scraping, clawing, slithering, shambling, lumbering, bloody, oozing, horrifically painful mess without any meaningful point whatsoever.”

Nihilium: “Enduring and getting stronger is the object—”

Gornok: “To what end? Just to die?”

Nihilium: “Okay…well, I still don’t get it.”

Gornok: “Every day is an absurd ritual of stuffing crap in one hole, squeezing out crap through another. What’s the point?”

Nihilium: “The point of Life is to eat itself, fuck itself, in order to give birth to itself. It’s all designed to make more Life.”

Gornok: “That’s my point. Why? Why make more? Why go through all this trouble, this revolting and detestable effort? Why not make less? Why not…don’t make any at all?”

Nihilium: “But then life would go extinct!”

Gornok: “So? Why would that be so terrible? No more creatures have to tear each other apart, risk their own lives finding a mate and fighting for the right to breed, suffer through falling meteors and earthquakes and drought and disease and hurricanes and bitterly cold winters…all to generate little versions of themselves who will repeat the process. It’s boring, monotonous, and—I think—fucking insane. The only point of life it seems is to be a pig and strive to replicate yourself. That’s it. No other reason.”

Nihilium: “What about evolution?”

Gornok: “What about it? All that means is adapting to an environment so you can be a better pig and make even more of yourself. Gosh, what a high ideal life has…”

Nihilium: “So, you think a mountain or a puddle of water has a better ideal?”

Gornok: “No. Inanimate stuff has no ideals at all. Maybe that’s better…”

Nihilium: “You’re crazy!”

Gornok: “I don’t think so. Crazy is a limited existence in which your level of success is determined by how much stuff you can shove into your face and turn into feces, to keep going and find another of your kind with a hole so you can stick your rod in it repeatedly until you squirt goo into the hole, which eventually creates a small version of you, which grows up stuffing junk into its face and turning it into feces, so it can keep going, find another of its kind, and so on, to create more of itself and perpetuate this senseless pattern. That’s fucking crazy.”

Nihilium: “Hmm. Since you put it that way, it does seem sort of silly, overall. But that’s not all that life is about; it’s about improving your species through your offspring.”

Gornok: “Improving them how? So they can be better pigs? So they can excrete more, pick more boogers, fart stinkier farts, piss stronger streams of urine, drool more saliva, take bigger shits, spew larger piles of vomit, bleed more blood, kill greater numbers of other life forms and shove them all into a toothy hole to be ground up and broken down with better acid? Just to do this all over again the next day? The next month, year, century? All so these better pigs can fuck more holes and create more little piglets and expand to more areas of the planet? What exactly does ‘better’ mean anyway? Seems to me it means ‘more piggish’ and that’s all.”

Nihilium: “Well…I don’t know what to say. Life is full of wonder and joy and other things you’re not talking about…”

Gornok: “Like what? Love? Oh, right. Slavery to another of your species and periodic bursts of chemically-induced ‘pleasure’ in your brain? Wonder—the moment of ignorance being shattered by chemicals in your grey matter. Joy—getting high off chemicals in your brain. What most of us think makes life worth living is in fact all about addiction and drugs—the drugs we produce inside our heads. These chemicals are produced biologically to keep us stoned and smiling, to reward us for doing the same things over and over, year after year, millennium after millennium. Why do you think sex feels good? Or eating? Or learning new things? We’re all druggies kept in a perpetual rut by biology, our built in drug dealer…Life…is nothing but a cruel junkie and a monstrous pig.”

Nihilium: “Wow. You are cynical.”

Gornok: “Don’t judge or dismiss me, just because you can’t allow yourself to think about this stuff. I thought you were a free-thinker…”

Nihilium: “I’m not. I’m a practical, rational thinker. A skeptic, and I had thought I was a cynic until I met you. But you got me beat. So you find nothing about life worth living?”

Gornok: “I do find life worth living, but only because I’m being manipulated and enslaved by Life itself, by nature, and by my own biology. Same as all of us—and by all of us, I mean every single living creature in the universe. I’m being fucked with and jerked around and made to do disgusting things every day. Every fucking day I need to generate energy, stop or prevent pain, take care of this part of me, wash that part, exercise the other part. And if I can’t generate enough energy to accomplish these mindless tasks, I degenerate, deteriorate, and suffer as a result.”

Nihilium: “It seems a little over-simplified.”

Gornok: “Perhaps, but that doesn’t make it incorrect. The next time you brush your teeth, think about how many hours, days, weeks, months, total, you’ve spent rubbing plastic inside your mouth…and tell me it makes perfect sense. And it’s all worth it. In twenty years, you’ll probably be dead…”

Nihilium: “Jesus. You’re dark…”

Gornok: “Dark, maybe, but honest. Maybe I’m light and not dark at all. Maybe God went insane from being alone for eternity—can you imagine the sheer terror of living forever in a nonstop, inescapable consciousness, neverending, watching the universe explode and contract and explode and contract and explode a zillion times, enduring perpetual boredom, suffering with the power to do anything amid the fact that everything means nothing, and there are no new things to do or know or see or hear or sense or taste or feel or create or destroy except the Totality of what has already been done a nonillion times, knowing All and screaming a deranged molten sorrow into the void of space because there is just no finality to this until the end of time, which does not exist?—entered into psychosis, and that’s what we are. What life is—a madman’s delusion. God’s nightmare. Right now God is gibbering and gnashing his teeth.”

Nihilium: “Hmmm. I don’t believe in God. Sorry.”

Gornok: “Speaking of teeth…most of this energy I generate I have to put towards finding other forms of organic matter and grinding it up with those teeth and make more energy out of it. What’s the point being a slave? No form of life has any manner of freedom whatsoever. It’s all an illusion.”

Nihilium: “Freedom compared to what?”

Gornok: “If I were a cloud, I could just drift about. No one and nothing pulling my strings, utterly free. Within chaos. Nothing to do but piss down rain or snow or hail, or simply blow away, with no consciousness, no will, no ego, no desires, nothing. But no—every day I see or hear a member of the opposite sex and my chain gets yanked again, whether I like it or not. I’m manipulated by biology to be attracted to a certain type of my own kind and be driven utterly mad by it. It takes over my thinking, controls my life, and starts a burning desire in me that only gets stronger and stronger until I am wholly consumed in every way…driving me insane until it’s released through sexual stimulation. And the next day I have to go through this again. Why do we put up with this fucking meaningless, empty, senseless daily horror?”

Nihilium: “I dunno. I guess, like you say, we’re addicted. What you would say: we’re addicted to ‘happiness’. What choice do we have anyway?”

Gornok: “That’s just it. Slaves always have next to no choices.”

Nihilium: “Oh dear. Well, it’s been a slice. A headache-inducing, depressing slice…”

Gornok: “Why are you depressed?”

Nihilium: “I’m not—this topic is fucking depressing.”

Gornok: “The truth is a real bitch, eh?”

Nihilium: “Truth of what?”

Gornok: “Of fucking life, you git! You’ve had enough of truth and want to go back to your delusions, inject some more chemicals and pretend everything is alright. But, you know something, my friend: you are going to die.”

Nihilium: “Oiy. Yes, I know that. What matters is the time we have left—”

Gornok: “Time. Pfft. Gimme a break, dude. Time is how we measure motion, the progression from one event to another. All of these events are futile, and pointless. Life itself is pointless!”

Nihilium: “Maybe if you were living your life, you would not be thinking about life. Eh? Huh? Ever have a thought like that worms its way through your brain?”

Gornok: “Everything lives its life. So what? I’m asking why. Or do you mean, what if I were pursuing my career, and plastering the internet with photos of myself, feeding my vanity and trying desperately to fit in, to belong, to be accepted, to be loved, to be a little kid again? Then I’d be a superficial self-absorbed twat like every other human, wouldn’t I? Aww, poor little guy. No, I’m cool! I’m so sweet! Am I not beautiful, and funny, and nice, and productive? Marry me, Betty, we can multiply, go forth and then fucking die. Where’s my flag! I wanna wave it around and hoot some!”

Nihilium: “Jesus, calm down, Gore.”

Gornok: “I will not. I asked you a question—why?”

Nihilium: “I don’t know!”

Gornok: “Yes, you do. Why are you alive?”

Nihilium: “Ugh, because I am? I had no choice in it, it just happened!”

Gornok: “Why?”

Nihilium: “Because my dad and mom fucked and out her hole I fell—”

Gornok: “Why?”

Nihilium: “Because their parents fucked, and on and on back—evidently—and back to the first two cells somewhere who got it on.”

Gornok: “Why did they get it on?”

Nihilium: “No idea! Random matter combined—”

Gornok: “No, that’s not it. Why? What was the point?”

Nihilium: “Does it matter?”

Gornok: “Matter is all that matters. I despise matter. I loathe it. If it was those two cells forming and fucking, then that has got to be the worst mistake in the history of time, in this universe and all others, in any dimension of realm of existence or non-existence. Christ, there is just no such thing as freedom….It’s merely species of slavery, on all levels, everywhere, in all things.”

Nihilium: “Then go be a flash of light!”

Gornok: “If only…but I’d still be a slave to forces, wouldn’t I? Physics, rules and laws that govern matter and energy. Still, at least I’d be out of this disgusting, revolting muck of life.”

Nihilium: “Yeah, the grass is greener on the other side of quantum reality, pal . . . Look, it is what it is. Accept what is or just kill yourself. Or go on driving yourself into deep dark holes of thought, and suffering without answers. I mean, I don’t have the answers you want, or seem to need—nobody does. We’re all…just…in this shit, here, now, and there is no fucking reason behind it all. Unless you believe—”

Gornok: “That some all-powerful being snapped its fingers and invented all this—all so we can learn and grow and obey, so we can suffer and die and follow orders and squeeze brown paste out of our asses and devour life forms alive, enslave them and cut their heads off and drink their blood and lay eggs in their faces, all to make more of ourselves, so we can suffer and die and suffer and die, until one day we get fucking judged for it all? By the very cunt who set it all up and cursed us for not being perfect enough slaves!? What the fuck! You’ve got to be fucking joking. And if we pass this barbaric, cruel, obscene, horrible test, we get to go to heaven and feel chemical rewards forever…is that about the size of this little scheme of twaddle? The smiling sensations of a Holy Drug Addict for ever and ever, amen?”

Nihilium: “Ummm. I guess. If you believe that. Frankly, neither point of view seems particularly meaningful, neither state is really appealing…I dunno, man. Can’t we change the subject…?”

Gornok: “Aye. Presently. Sort of… Well, sometimes I’d like to be some other form of matter—or maybe not matter at all. Can you envision existence as a lightning bolt?”

Nihilium: “No, not really. ‘Twould be a short life…”

Gornok: “All the lifespans of all life are so short anyway that everything might as well not live at all. What’s the difference? Who cares if everything dies tomorrow, or fifty trillion years from now? If a meteor comes and obliterates the entire globe, killing everything…what matter? What was it all for? It makes no difference at all, and it makes no sense whatsoever.”

Nihilium: “What if we’re meant to leave this planet and colonize—”

Gornok: “Yeah, yeah, ‘evolve’ and all that rubbish. You know, evolution is a crock of shit. Creationism is a crock of shit. So, okay, we leave the planet, and eventually our sun here blows up and destroys all the solar system. But we’re out there, hopping from planet to planet, solar system to solar system, on and on, exploding stars behind us. Then what?”

Nihilium: “We develop into—”

Gornok: “And after that?”

Nihilium: “We keep going.”

Gornok: “Until all the stars explode, and the black holes combine to swallow everything, and we all die. Again, what was it all for? What was the point?”

Nihilium: “Wait for the next Big Bang—”

Gornok: “So we can do it all over again? To what end? To whose benefit and what purpose in which function of what role of whose dementia are we doing this repetitive shit?”

Nihilium: “Jesus fucking Christ! So negative!”

Gornok: “Maybe…”

Nihilium: “Hey, maybe when we die we figure it all out?”

Gornok: “How? We’re dead! And you don’t believe that anyway…when we’re dead, we’re gone—you’ve said that before. And even if we aren’t, there is nothing to figure out! Knowledge of life would be wasted on the dead!”

Nihilium: “I suppose. So what then? I don’t know how else to look at all this…”

Gornok: “Well. Maybe we’re looking at it in our very tiny, narrow, detained life-form point of view. Maybe I am not complex—or simple—enough to really see what this is all about…but I doubt it. I’d still rather be energy. Lightning would be cool, now that I think of it. Maybe you come into existence every time there’s a storm. You’re immortal, intangible, but never alive at all. I think that would be cool. Its not death that bothers me, or even the needless, pointless suffering inbetween—it’s the inanity of life…eat, shit, breed, die, just to have your offspring be better at eating, shitting, breeding, dying, and on and on ad nauseum ad non compos mentis ad infinitum. It’s…fucking horror. Pure, indisputable pristine horror…”

Nihilium: “Evil?”

Gornok: “Indeed. Well…I just don’t see many people thinking about this sort of stuff…or discussing it.”

Nihilium: “There’s a reason for that.”

Gornok: “Yeah. Maybe.”

Nihilium: “Listen, man. Life itself might not have any purpose when you look at it the way you’re doing. All we have to do is figure out what has meaning for us; meaning—and purpose—for you. Just you. Meaning is invented by individuals, I think. Maybe it takes faith to do this. Belief in something that defies belief. Otherwise we all might as well grab an armful of rocks and jump head-first into the sea. It’s good to question shit, but when you get too deep into stuff like this, it can really drag you down and fuck you up.”

Gornok: “I guess. I’m too drained to think any more. So, that’s it then. I’m all finished here.”

Nihilium: “Okay. Chill, man. Think of something else—better still, just do something. Later, bro.”

Gornok: “Later.”

[Well, it’s time I finished clearing my chest (of these last bits of nasty phlegm) and be rid of these subjects once and for all.]

Part Two

The Cult Of ‘Love’ (continued)

In her book, The Polygamous Sex, Esther Vilar delves into the nearly taboo subject of love—that is, the subject of love as a state in which it exists between social mammals (and probably other types of life forms that care for offspring); the stronger caring for and protecting the weaker, as well as the mere act and drive of reproduction to continue the species.

I need post a big chunk of it here, because she nails it right on the head.

How is it possible that an experience every adult must have had at least once in his life, a phenomenon thoroughly explored by generations of psychoanalysts, the favorite age-old theme of writers, composers, artists, can still be the subject of so much misunderstanding?

What is love?

THE PROTÉGÉ AND THE SEX PARTNER

If we are going to speak of love, we must begin at the beginning: that we live and find ourselves surrounded by life must be based on certain principles. Where there is life, in other words, on this or any other planet, there must be some process that tends to create life out of dead matter. Now if we mean, by life, the general principle of change — what Darwin calls variation and selection — then death, or destruction, must be part of the process, or else we would quickly run out of the stuff upon which change subsists. A living being must, accordingly, fulfill at least three ‘basic principles’ of life:

sustain its own life (self-preservation)
pass on its own life to another organism before death, so that life can go on (reproduction)
preserve the life of its offspring until it becomes capable of taking care of itself (nurture of the young)

A human being’s life depends as much as any other upon these principles of self-preservation, reproduction, and nurture of its young. Without them it could not exist.

The instinct of self-preservation is asocial, in that it is concerned only with the self. Reproduction and nature, on the other hand, are social mechanisms. Reproduction — sweetened by the sex drive, perhaps because it is not a sufficiently powerful motive in its own right — cannot be accomplished without a partner. And the breeding or nurturing instinct is also directed outward, towards others.

Those others, whom we need to satisfy our social instincts, are — depending on which of these two drives they serve — our sex partners or our dependents, objects of our protection, protégés, wards, whichever.

Clearly these two social instincts are the biological basis of love, since their most intense and lasting manifestation — the attachment to a sex partner or to one’s own child — is love. To have a lover or a beloved is happiness. The lover seeks out the beloved for the satisfaction of his sexual needs as frequently as possible, and says, ‘I love you.’ When the relationship breaks up, he-she suffers pangs of ‘unrequited love.’ This condition lasts until a ‘new love object’ is found.

When the love object is one’s child, natural or adopted, one protects it. The protector will risk his life for his dependent, will want only the best for him-her, will assure him-her of his love. To lose the ‘child’ means great unhappiness. It means to have lost ‘the thing I loved most in all the world.’

No matter which we are referring to — dependent or sex partner — we use the same word for what we feel: love. And yet the same word designates two radically different kinds of bond. To arouse the protective instinct, the dependent must fulfill certain conditions greatly at variance with the conditions that make the sex partner attractive, and vice versa. The specific characteristics of the other person determine the nature of our biological response. Ultimately they determine the kind of love we shall feel for that person.

Ultimately, “love” cannot be possible for the protectees, only the protector.

(By the way, check out her book, The Polygamous Sex, sometime.)

The protector only feels it because he needs a reward for all his hard work (protecting and providing for a family). Praise does cause chemical reactions in the brain that result in a type of pleasure—and the absence of shame is a form of relief from pain—but neither of these would last for long.

Similar to the pleasure center of the brain making us “feel good” when we have sex—as a reward for procreating, even if we have no intention of multiplying—the protector and provider gets a headful of yummy cvhemicals to keep him doing what he’s doing. Essentially, he’s getting high.

There are all kinds of chemical (the synaptic connections within our brains) reactions going on, from the first wiff of one’s pheromones, to neurotransmitters and Dopamine, Endorphins, Serotonin, et cetera. It seems that men and women receive different chemical rewards for what they do.

For females, the chemical that keeps them involved is oxytocin.

In February, 2009, PBS did an article called…

Love Is a Chemical Reaction

Young, a researcher at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta, studies the neurobiology that underlies pair bonds — what nonscientists might call love.

In an essay in the journal Nature last month, he laid out evidence that scientists may soon be able to tie the emotion “love” to a biochemical chain of events, and might someday even be able to develop drugs that enhance social bonding — in much the same way that pharmaceuticals today can help regulate emotions like anxiety and depression.

But, Young says, it’s not a love potion. “The holy grail is a drug that might be able to enhance the social abilities of people with social disorders like autism.”

In his lab at Yerkes, Young studies rodents called prairie voles. Unlike 95 percent of mammals, prairie voles mate for life.

“They form a lifelong bond,” Young said. “They nest together, they raise a family together, they have another litter. So they have this really intense bond between them.”

In a series of studies, Young found that the hormones that produce that bond are the same ones that promote parent-child bonding in many other species.

For females, that hormone is oxytocin.

“We can take a prairie vole female, inject her with oxytocin, and she’ll bond with whatever male is around,” Young said.

I think the same thing occurs in human females, say, at a bar…after a few drinks, a toke, and a few moments of much laughter (which produces pleasurable sensations in the brain the same as any drug or mound of chocolate or sex act, just in slightly different ways and levels).

One concept that gets a lot of flak is hate. It is, evidently, “negative,” but can anyone prove that? If it leads to things that are negative, maybe I can see it then—but “love” leads to as much negativity, pain and “heart-ache.”

If “love” is just another drug, then what is “hate?” Something that makes you feel bad? If “love” is chocolate, then “hate” is nasty and strong whiskey…that does not get you drunk at all? Can you get high on hate? Motivated perhaps, like anger, but I see no evidence that hate can get you high. Perhaps through adrenaline levels, but that’d be it. It is hardly a high like morphine…

Well, whatever “hate” is, it is not the opposite of “love.”

The Value of Hate

No, I am not “pro-hate.” When I speak of “hate,” I’m not talking about racism, or the kind of popular notions of hate that suggest that it is a strong dislike for one group of something.

If I nearly drown as a child, I might a have a fear and strong dislike for being in the water—it doesn’t mean I’d hate all water. I’d still take showers or have a bath, and I’d still drink water…but I might sneer when gazing at the ocean.

If I am stung by wasps, I might grow to hate wasps. That “hate” is simply strong dislike based upon fear—fear of being hurt or injured, obviously stemming from a previous experience.

In that sense, this type of “hate” is helpful—due to it, I will avoid all waps and situations in which wasps may sting me again; thus, I am protecting myself from future injury by hating that which has caused me harm or pain.

Pain is, after all, just a simple mechanism the body employs to notify you of injury—the secondary feeling of anger is meant to motivate you to stop the pain and-or prevent it from happening again. “Hate” is therefore just an intense, extreme version of anger or mixture of anger and fear, though it appears to be a different and more complex species altogether. If anger is just a reaction to pain and fear, a motivating element to an organsim, causing it to act to preserve itself or others, then hate must be similar.

When I see a logging crew cutting down a forest, I do feel hate—not at the loggers…I understand their ignorance and denial regarding what they think they’re doing; they feel they need money, and they do it for a pay check. No logger goes off in the woods in his spare time to cut down trees for no reason and no currency. He only does it for a bit of money. So I can’t blame and hate him for trying to make his living, as misguided and destructive as I reckon it is. He is merely a tool being used by a larger, more sinister beast.

No, I hate the corporation that ultimately profits and cares not in the slightest about the carnage and its after-effects; and I hate the governments that authorize the corporation to castrate Nature for only greed, since governments profit as well; and, finally, I hate the greed, since that is the underlying motivation for all this destruction for profit.

To me, it is murder—wrongful killing—and unnecessary; the lumber is not needed. There is enough wood in the world right now that we never need to log again if we use and reuse what’s lying around. Moreso, there are other building materials we can utilize that are not as destructive to world ecosystems and devastating to the planet in general.

It is no different than killing a baby to sell its body parts to someone, and I would hate those who took part in this murder, and the greed behind it.

So? Does this hate have value?

Well, that depends—probably not so much on its own, as it is, but if it leads to constructive, positive, or destructive (to the evil forces at work that seek to wipe out Nature in order to get richer), then of course, yes, it does have value.

If, due to this hate, I join a radical group that interrupts the activities of loggers, saving several acres of frontier forest somewhere, and-or help fight evil, raptorial corporations who restlessly and ruthlessly exploit the world’s “natural resources,” then of course hate has value.

(What something does or does not do is the only determining factor as to whether a thing is “good” or “bad.” Not many things are “good” or “bad” simply as they are, doing nothing… As it has been argued—correctly—a gun is not “bad.” According to our laws and general social norms, of course, killing someone with that gun, not defending oneself or others, is “bad.”)

“Hate” gets a bad rep, and is consequently underappreciated as a strong motivating force.

As much as “love” exists as a chemical reward for procreation and the rearing of offspring, “hate” exists for a reason.

It has a function. It is also just as necessary therefore.

In conclusion, “love,” in my opinion, is merely another form of control and another species of slavery—like an addiction. Being “enslaved by a drug” is basically no different than being enslaved by a mate; in which you “miss” the mate when they’re gone, in which you keep returning to the mate because of the “feelings” involved, even if you don’t particularly “like” the person (on an intellectual level or for whatever reason).

At the heart of any cult is a series of chemical reactions in the brain that keep it all going; it’s a slave’s reward for remaining a slave…

But at any rate, I am wrapping up this subject, since this is the perfect theme and segway into…

Part Three

Happiness

Happiness is not a cult. It is not a religion, although those who “believe” in it can behave very much like religious zealots. It is simply a drug. A state of being high.

Last year I spent months in treatment for drug addiction, and I learned a lot. One of things I learned—on my own—was that those wanting you to get along in your life free of drugs essentially encourage you to replace your chemical dependency with another, more ‘natural’ one. The literature I read seemed to want me to do things to produce the necessary chemical reactions rather than applying them myself, directly. So: manipulating events and circumstances (and in some cases, people) so that I can “get high” without drugs or alcohol.

“Happiness” was brought up a lot. But I’m never been a believer in happiness; like any drug encounter, there are predictable patterns, same as happiness. In short, what goes up must come down.

In long, the drugged out feeling of joy (euphoria) is pleasurable of course, but without exception it is followed by a crash. What is a “crash?” Picture an airplane spiralling towards the earth and hitting the ground.

(The “crash” of “happiness” is known well as “unhappiness.”)

Better yet, if you’re not a visual person and not a drug user, go buy the biggest slurpie/slushie you can find, and drink it all. You’ll be buzzed for a while…then, eventually, you will crash. Your ‘mood’ will plummet, your energy level will drop, among other slightly less noticeable effects.

(Apparently, glucose in the blood stream causes the pancreas to release insulin, which is a hormone helping the body’s cells to absorb sugar from the blood. Tryptophan (is the reason you get sleepy after eating too much turkey, and) is produced during the absorption, and it’s transformed into serotonin. And we all know what this it. Too much sugar and you’ll get a “happy rush,” followed by the sugar low or crash, which seems to be the onset of hypoglycemia. And this will cause you to be tired, lacking energy, and it will depress your mood.)

But everyone knows what such a crash is like. Everyone has experienced a high (the stimulation of the pleasure center of the brain by whatever factor), which we call “happiness,” followed—sooner or later—by the rapid downward slope of this feeling.

Thus I began to view that which I was reading as…inhernetly flawed. Or at least simply not completely honest. What? The Government wasn’t being truthful?

Well, from a governmental perspective, no, they don’t want you to use drugs—you can drink, as long as it isn’t too much; consumers are better when they do not have brain damage and are thus unable to work and pay taxes and bills; plus there are asocial side effects of too much alcohol, not to mention a burden on the health care system—since they do not profit from that. They want you to be “high on life.” Which means “high on a lifestyle.” Very few of the highs they wish you to experience come from things that do not make someone somewhere some amount of money…

So, if you’re feeling good due to an object (a new car!—a chocolate bar!—the latest iPhone!), social situation (fun time with friends at a movie!—sex with your lucky lady!), or series of events (water-skiing, rollercoaster ride, et cetera), chances are that someone is profitting from your “happiness.”

What? How can someone be profitting from having sex with Cupcake? Well, what things need to be in place before that happens? Unless you’re a smelly, hairy hippy (and so is she), start naming all the products you buy each month—your clothes, shaving devices, stinking liquid and deodorants and hair-care stuff, including haricuts, skin care products, from showering gel to nail clippers. And there’s more, but that’s just you.

What about your apartment, or house? What’s in it that was not there when you were single and playing World of Warcraft alone? What’s changed since you got a girlfriend? What did you buy to make yourself and your dwelling appealing or just acceptable?

Many men like to maintain the illusion that nothing changes when they get a chick, for a while, or that they don’t take great care and exert massive effort in trying to get a girlfriend in the first place, but the fact is that almost all of them spend a lot more money—because chances of getting laid only improve with the material state of him, his appearance, his grooming and hygiene, and the type and value-status of his automobile, and (very important) the type and status of his nest (where he lives).

In many cases his clothes and shoes, for example, need a vast upgrade to be acceptable to the female. And I’m not even getting into money spent on flowers and others gifts—the bribes they demand—or money soent on dates, dinners, occasions, movies, trips, and all the gas burned taking her here and there for this and other stuff…

Mind you, I can’t blame women for this wanton materialism, shallowness, and greed…it’s just the way they are. Remember, women account for 80% of every material thing purchased on this planet. Which means the shelf space in stores are devoted much more to women—an 8 to 2 ratio with men—because 8 out of every 10 objects bought in the world are purchased by women or for women.

Nine-hundred-and-ninety-nine times out of a thousand, he’s just thinking of getting some pussy—but she’s thinking of a lot more, and everything about him (more than what he does: what he has or can get (for her)) is on her mind. He’s being measured and gauged as a provider as well as a protector. He’ll go off with his friends and maybe tell them what a nice ass she has, but she’ll go off with her friends and discuss if he’s going to be making enough money in a few years to support a family and buy a house, and an SUV.

Anywhat, it’s a no-brainer that guys wanting to get laid will spend a truckoad of money if they need to, and that couples spend a lot more money than singles who are unattached to anyone. Married folks spend the most money—this is (one reason) why large corporations have often been so overtly conversative—yet I think this has been changing over the last little while.

There are not many things you can do (that make you feel good) that do not profit somebody.

they appeared to me grave and almost sad even in their pleasures

“In America I saw the freest and most enlightened men placed in the happiest condition that exists in the world; it seemed to me that a sort of cloud habitually covered their features; they appeared to me grave and almost sad even in their pleasures.”

–Alexis de Tocqueville, from Democracy In America.

I read that book in my early twenties. Perhaps it influenced me more than I was ever aware. That’s probably a good thing—the book was a masterpiece.

It is a strange thing to see with what sort of feverish ardor Americans pursue well-being and how they show themselves constantly tormented by a vague fear of not having chosen the shortest route that can lead to it.

The inhabitant of the United States attaches himself to the goods of this world as if he were assured of not dying, and he rushes so precipitately to grasp those that pass within his reach that one would say he fears at each instant he will cease to live before he has enjoyed them. He grasps them all but without clutching them, and he soon allows them to escape from his hands so as to run after new enjoyments.

In the United States, a man carefully builds a dwelling in which to pass his declining years, and he sells it while the roof is being laid; he plants a garden and he rents it out just as he was going to taste its fruits; he clears a field and he leaves to others the care of harvesting its crops. He embraces a profession and quits it. He settles in a place from which he departs soon after so as to take his changing desires elsewhere. Should his private affairs give him some respite, he immediately plunges into the whirlwind of politics. And when toward the end of a year filled with work some leisure still remains to him, he carries his restive curiosity here and there within the vast limits of the United States. He will thus go five hundred leagues in a few days in order better to distract himself from his happiness.

This was written in the early 1800s. Savagely amazing.

Death finally comes, and it stops him before he has grown weary of this useless pursuit of a complete felicity that always flees from him.

One is at first astonished to contemplate the singular agitation displayed by so many happy men in the very midst of their abundance. This spectacle is, however, as old as the world; what is new is to see a whole people show it.

The taste for material enjoyments must be considered as the first source of this secret restiveness revealed in the actions of Americans and of the inconstancy of which they give daily examples.

He who has confined his heart solely to the search for the goods of this world is always in a hurry, for he has only a limited time to find them, take hold of them, and enjoy them. His remembrance of the brevity of life constantly spurs him. In addition to the goods that he possesses, at each instant he imagines a thousand others that death will prevent him from enjoying if he does not hasten. This thought fills him with troubles, fears, and regrets, and keeps his soul in a sort of unceasing trepidation that brings him to change his designs and his place at every moment.

Since his observations, it does not seem that much has changed—except that perhaps it is so much worse.

One last big quote…

If a social state in which law or custom no longer keeps anyone in his place is joined to the taste for material well-being, this too greatly excites further restiveness of spirit: one will then see men change course continuously for fear of missing the shortest road that would lead them to happiness.

Besides, it is easy to conceive that if men who passionately search for material enjoyments desire keenly, they will be easily discouraged; the final object being to enjoy, the means of arriving at it must be prompt and easy, without which the trouble of acquiring the enjoyment would surpass the enjoyment. Most souls are, therefore, at once ardent and soft, violent and enervated. Often one dreads death less than continuing efforts toward the same goal.

Equality leads men by a still more direct path to several of the effects that I have just described.

When all the prerogatives of birth and fortune are destroyed, when all professions are open to all, and when one can reach the summit of each of them by oneself, an immense and easy course seems to open before the ambition of men, and they willingly fancy that they have been called to great destinies. But that is an erroneous view corrected by experience every day. The same equality that permits each citizen to conceive vast hopes renders all citizens individually weak. It limits their strength in all regards at the same time that it permits their desires to expand.

Not only are they impotent by themselves, but at each step they find immense obstacles that they had not at first perceived.

They have destroyed the annoying privileges of some of those like them; they come up against the competition of all. The barrier has changed form rather than place. When men are nearly alike and follow the same route, it is difficult indeed for any one of them to advance quickly and to penetrate the uniform crowd that surrounds him and presses against him.

The constant opposition reigning between the instincts that equality gives birth to and the means that it furnishes to satisfy them is tormenting and fatiguing to souls.

One can conceive of men having arrived at a certain degree of freedom that satisfies them entirely. They then enjoy their independence without restiveness and without ardor. But men will never found an equality that is enough for them.

Whatever a people’s efforts, it will not succeed in making conditions perfectly equal within itself; and if it had the misfortune to reach this absolute and complete leveling, the inequality of intellects would still remain, which, coming directly from God, will always escape the laws.

However democratic the social state and political constitution of a people may be, one can therefore count on the fact that each of its citizens will always perceive near to him several positions in which he is dominated, and one can foresee that he will obstinately keep looking at this side alone. When inequality is the common law of a society, the strongest inequalities do not strike the eye; when everything is nearly on a level, the least of them wound it. That is why the desire for equality always becomes more insatiable as equality is greater.

In democratic peoples, men easily obtain a certain equality; they cannot attain the equality they desire. It retreats before them daily but without ever evading their regard, and, when it withdraws, it attracts them in pursuit. They constantly believe they are going to seize it, and it constantly escapes their grasp. They see it from near enough to know its charms, they do not approach it close enough to enjoy it, and they die before having fully savored its sweetness.

It is to these causes that one must attribute the singular melancholy that the inhabitants of democratic lands often display amid their abundance, and the disgust with life that sometimes seizes them in the midst of an easy and tranquil existence.

In France one complains that the number of suicides is increasing; in America suicide is rare, but one is sure that madness is more common than everywhere else.

Those are different symptoms of the same malady.

Americans do not kill themselves, however agitated they may be, because religion forbids them from doing so, and because materialism so to speak does not exist among them, although the passion for material well-being is general.

Their will resists, but often their reason gives way.

In democratic times, enjoyment is keener than in aristocratic centuries, and above all the number of those who taste it is infinitely greater; but on the other hand, one must recognize that hopes and desires are more often disappointed, souls more aroused and more restive, and cares more burning.

Tocqueville was especially boggled by this (North) American concept: “the pursuit of happiness.”

He saw that the people here, just like today, engaged in the futile striving for prosperity, another name for which is “happiness.”

Forgive the long quotes, but this is another dimension of the concept of “happiness” beyond pure chemical joy.

When someone asks you, “Are you happy?” the person is not interested in knowing how many opiates are flooding your brain, such as what happens when “fun” is encountered; the person is more interested, for whatever reason, in your general station in life and how you feel about your lifestyle overall. Perhaps it is asked so that the asker can gain some insight into his-or-her own level of contentment within his-or-her own lifestyle. Perhaps the asker actually only desires to talk about his-or-her own lifestyle…which will create more chemical reactions in his-or-her brain.

(Often people will ask a question not for want of any answer but rather for an opportunity to speak about themselves.)

I think Tocqueville understood that “happiness”—a state of contentment with one’s life, in general—can only occur when it arrives…meaning that pursuing it, chasing it, gathering material goods to facilitate its appearance…is ultimately impossible.

But I would never use this silly, simplistic and childish word to describe something so elusive and so profound as a general state of feeling meaning in one’s life.

I would use “purpose.” The “sense” of accomplishment and satisfaction in doing what you do is not a chemical reaction…it is not physical, not physiological, not material at all. It comes from somewhere deeper. I hesitate to say “spiritual,” yet what other word works? Intangible, profound, deep, and immaterial. You pick the word then.

Whatever it’s called, true contentment is something not many of us have actually witnessed. We have heard rumours of it among Tibetan monks or whoever living in a hermitage on top of a mountain or wherever, but it’s all vague and tangled up in such lofty and impossible religious terms such as “enlightenment” and we don’t understand it. And we don’t really want to—it’s too hard and complicated and we wouldn’t want to bother even if we understood a fraction of it. We don’t see it, we don’t experience it, we don’t know what it means. There are no examples around for us to run into. It’s a myth. All we know is what the TV and the Internet tells us—material this and tasty that, and whatever’s “hot” and sexy for the other. It’s a tidal wave of bullshit that smashes right into the Ego, and the Ego loves it and wants more. So that’s what we do: serve the Ego.

And so we go back to our old habits, and go back to work, and set up another date with “Jennifer,” and go to another movie, and pull out our wallets, hoping to purchase another fleeting, barely satisfying feeling—“they appeared to me grave and almost sad even in their pleasures.” And we feel empty afterwards, and there is a pain somewhere, when we begin to crash.

A state of non-happiness is obviously the answer to the horrible cycle of the drug addict. But how possible it is to refrain from feeling good in any way? Who would even want to try?

Chasing The Dragon

It is not possible—chemical reactions exist for a reason, they are inherent and cannot be controlled or removed and should not be.

The point is that gearing your life towards obtaining some “state of happiness” is exactly the same as what is called, “chasing the dragon.”

The first high you receive from your brain, however it’s achieved, is the best and can never be repeated or duplicated—this is the curse of “the first time.” The first drug, the first set of parted thighs and the feeling involved with all of that experience, the first of anything that produce pleasure—it’s all the same action in your head. It’s the first high.

And the striving to regain that feeling is what they call chasing the dragon—because dragons do not exist and you cannot catch the tail of something that does not exist. You run after an illusion, a mirage, and never, ever, reach it.

The first high is what happens in your brain—I forget all the technical jargon, but essentially it just means that your brain is altered after that high, and no other high will feel the same.

In Vancouver, I witnessed crackheads chasing the dragon—not to get the first high (ever); but the first high of the day. Like I probably said (or will say), time away from the drug seems to reset the brain a little bit. Eight hours’ sleep and by early evening, the crackhead can get a decent high, the first one of the day. The next one is not so good, and it’s really all downhill after that. But he tries and keeps trying, until he’s out of crack and crawling on the floor looking for the fabled white lump that must have fallen somewhere…

(Now, I’ve never tried crack; I’ve only cocained it up for a few months as a youth, and have observed crackheads now and then. So, I don’t pretend to be an expert here. Yet I have been addicted to codeine for 18 years, and I do know a few things for sure.)

The more you get high, the more your brain changes. You also build up tolerances and it takes more and more to feel as you once did.

Ever have a lot of sex? I have. More than once a day, every day? Same thing…it gets boring, the feelings get dulled. More will not help. All that will help is staying sex-free for a while. Some people try getting into kinky stuff; however, it is a form of extremism that ultimately does not work. You can only get so extreme, then what? Boredom is back. Stopping is the only answer…but addicts have trouble stopping.

Ever snort a lot of coke? I have. After a while, your tolerance level increases, and it takes more and more white powder to get you high. All that can restore some of that glorious high you used to feel is to quit it for a while.

Ever smoke a lot of weed? I have. You will build up a tolerance. I smoked so much last year that I needed a few bong-hoots just to achieve the high I had gotten from a tiny bong-hoot. I needed two joints, chain-smoked, to achieve the same high I got from half a joint. The only thing that helps is to lay off weed for a month or, better, two or three.

Your brain chemistry begins to return to normal. The same thing actually occurs with drugs that are legal—including anti-depressants. You become a pharmaceutical junkie, and you brain gets re-wired.

Such is “happiness.”

Some, including myself, no longer seek these chemical reactions, no longer manipulate circumstances or people, no longer seek out the events that get us high, and of course no longer directly cause these chemical reactions (using drugs).

When these chemical reactions happen, they happen. Enjoy them, but let them leave and learn to not miss them (withdrawal). It requires ego-work, since the ego is all about what feels good, especially material goods that bring about chemical reactions in the brain.

Like the feelings, as waves from the sea, that come and go; they don’t need to be named and studied. Or talked about. Feel them, unidentified and mysterious, and enjoy them, no matter what they are, and let them go. The “bad” ones will go away on their own; they require no management or “help”—if they rarely leave, then it’s your life that probably needs a radical alteration, since something is obviously not right. And 99% of the time it has to do with your physical state, trying to adapt to your environment, or the deeper sense of purpose and meaning to your entire life in that environment.

We live with a lot of contradictions and falsehoods—and one of the biggest is that your environment is fine…the problem is you. The truth is the environment is synthetic, abnormal, and polluted and diseased and utterly toxic to your soul or “spirit.” It is a poison cage wtih pretty decorations and lots of toys. Whatever troubles you are having will almost always be due to where you are and what you are doing.

But that’s just my opinion. So, carry on…

And the “good” feelings? When they go, don’t mourn their passing. They’ll be back.

That is the trick. Seek nothing. What comes to you will come to you. Sometimes you need to be quite patient, but it always comes. Like I learned regarding weather: do not wish or hope for a certain type of weather, simply be patient, and endure what’s there, and whatever you want will eventually arrive. In its own good time. Your ego will hate this—and that’s a good thing. What your ego hates is good for you and your overall state of health.

Your ego is just the infant in you that never grew up or went away; it is the selfish, self-preserving, self-absorbed, self-serving, want-need confusing, greedy “me! me! I want! gimme-gimme!” little brat within your mind. It wants stuff, and when you get stuff, it wants more stuff. New stuff. Stuff like that other kids has… And everything it believes is yours. Like an infant—it’s all mine, mine, mine, and so I stuff it all into my mouth.

Surrendering your ego is denying your ego, and it is a form of suffering. Hence the wise saying: when you’re hurting inside, the only thing in there that’s in pain is your ego.

Once your ego has been obliterated, there is no more internal pain, no “heartache,” no misery, no agony of the soul. You will even stop “missing” things and people to a large extent. And when you lose something, there might be a momentary feeling, but it fades quickly and “oh well” will be the signal to move on and let it go.

Ego loves being attached to objects—denying it that means reducing the amount of objects (material goods) you possess, and overall not being preoccupied with them. Loss is often reported to be a defining moment in adulthood, and loss is about ridding us of attachments or having them stripped from us. Ego loves tasty food that’s bad for you—and it loves getting flattered and praised and complimented. Ego loves attention. Ego loves comfort and security, and warm fuzzy faces smiling in a friendly (accepting, inviting) way.

I think the ego is the worst enemy a human being can have or will ever have. Long ago, we were initiated and moved into an adult world as hunter-gatherers, a world that did not revolve around that which feeds the ego but rather that which starves the ego—the big baby within. The big baby wants a plump tit to suck on and wants to be covered in soft blankets, stroked and soothed, and wants to just feel good…and it screams when anything interrupts its hedonistic lifestyle…growing up means getting along in the world without a pathological need for comfort, security, pleasure, things that taste yummy, things that makes us feel good. Growing up means battling our egos and giving up on the shallow, hopeless pursuit of fun and happiness. It is the stuff of infants.

Seeking out things to make us feel good = feeding the ego = the commencement of addiction, not adulthood. Pride is ego; self-esteem is ego.

We are memetically infused with bullshit that does not profit us in terms of our health and sanity, our minds and souls; it all profits others, but we have been conditioned through memes to believe anything they tell us—and of course judge and dismiss shit like what I’m saying, or what many others have talked about…

(Yes, I’m quite aware maybe a handful of people on the planet will read this and not think it’s bullshit, either because they already knew it or because they’re minds are more open and less infected with memes. But that’s okay. The truth is frequently unpopular and hard to accept.)

I think we are still children. What once happened to make us into adult beings has been severed somewhere back among the ages, and now we’re simply large brats, oversized infants, pretending as best we can to be ‘grown-ups,’ while the powers that be, the evil rulers and the rich custodians of all systems, laugh at us and make a killing from our blind misery and endless labour.

But that’s just me. Back to the subject before I end this…

People often comment that “good things” come to those who wait. It’s true. They always tend to say that they get something awesome when they’re not looking for it. And that is the point, that’s it in a nutshell.

I suppose, it takes, in addition to patience, a bit of faith; some belief that all will work out, be in balance, and that forcing it won’t work. Trying to control it won’t work—trying to control how you feel is how addiction begins.

Hence, surrender your ego.