Ownership is Illusion

Ownership is a game we play.

And like any other game, a glance outside of the game board breaks the illusion’s grasp on us. Consciousness of our own deaths reveal ownership as what is is; the fleeting and largely arbitrary positions of objects in the world we have conceptualized.

When looked at any scale besides that of a projected human lifetime (funny how we always project our own so far out!) the idea of possession, and the necessary ego identification it requires, is ridiculous.

The mansion is to the millionaire what the electron is to the atom.

It will not be held long. Soon it will vanish, on to another position. And even stranger; at a closer level of analysis, can the mansion be said to exist? Can the electron?

But to reject all objets and live as a hermit is far too easy a way out. That is merely trading one identity for another. More than likely, the hermits lack of objects will be clung to and identified with to the same degree as the mansion.

So what then? What do we have to do?

To live our lives with awareness that ownership is only a game. The objects around us have nothing to do with who we are. Here today, gone tomorrow. To lend out even an ounce of your soul in identification with an object is to cheapen your being, and devalue your life.

For what will you be when the possessions go away?

What will your possessions be once you’re gone?

Atoms sitting in empty rooms, I suppose. Not even there when no one’s looking.

And as for you; who knows?

But you will not be here, on this plane, in any condition to own things.

Not that you ever were.

Ownership is an illusion. A game.

Feel free to play. Enjoy without expecting victory. Because death waits at the end to collect all points, all trophies. Everything turns to dust.

But you can smile, if you knew all along that they were dust to begin with.

How to Not Fool Yourself

We often operate under the false impression that we are born with an unearned understanding of our own talent and potential.

But the truth is, self awareness comes from a retrospective view of our past successes and failures. Only when we have meaningful feedback from the outside world can we understand what we’re good at, and what activities grant us lasting satisfaction.

How many people want to be rock stars or celebrities, never having interacted with a large crowd, or gone without sleep for several nights, or dealt with the scrutiny of an unforgiving general public?

People want to be rock stars, because they don’t understand what the experience of being a rock star actually is.

Its dangerous to pursue something that you don’t love, and that you’re not good at. And its incredible how easily the human mind can deceive itself into doing just that.

Every person who pursues a risky career path wonders at some point or another:

Am I kidding myself? 

The answer to that question isn’t difficult to derive. Action will tell you. Failure will tell you. This is why the idea that failure is a necessary to precursor to success is much more than a glib platitude.

Without failure, we don’t learn our own weak points.

Without success, we have no understanding of our own aptitudes.

The two skills you must possess to answer that terrible question:

Am I kidding myself? 

Are these:

  1. The ability to know failure from success, and stare unflinchingly into the face of either one.
  2. The bravery to deduce your own talents and shortcomings, not from daydreams and intuitions, but concrete evidence from past instances of action taking.

Lift Your Weight

“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.”

-Jim Morrison

The same sentiment was expressed by philosopher Jean Paul Sartre in a phrase that has been much repeated and misinterpreted:

“Hell is other people.”

Both quotes resonate with a truth known to all of us. We are social animals, forced everyday to have interactions with the most complex systems currently known; other human beings.

And of course, we ourselves are complicated and often self contradictory actors in the social world, both creators and destroyers of ourself and others. Those around us exert a social pressure that we in turn submit to, transmute, and exert back out. This occurs on the micro level within us, as different thoughts and drives compete for expression through the body, and also at macro levels in social situations as different people compete for dominance and control. The global culture itself is nothing but the final expression of this near infinite set of nested competitive frame works.

But in this jungle, 7 billion strong, full of tyrants, vagrants, billionaires, and prostitutes, who wins?

Who exerts influence, and crafts the environment to their liking?

Who dies still in love with the world, and with the world in love with them?

It isn’t the ruthless.

The Stalins and Hitlers of the world live desperate, paranoid, hopeless lives full of fear and hatred. They are not happy. They are loved only by the pathological. Any look into their personal lives and this truth becomes evident.

It isn’t the greedy.

The nature of greed is in wanting more. If one is greedy, one lacks. If one lives in a state of lack, they are not happy. To call a greedy person happy is to call a leaking bucket full.

But what of the individuals?

The people who, despite their pathologies, fears, traumas, and inconsistencies see in themselves a load bearing capability. They see that they could lift a great weight, and in the lifting make their own lives worth living, and their own pathologies worth enduring.

The people who perceive what is the most difficult, impactful goal they could attempt to attain, and strive towards it, social pressure be damned.

Power games crumble on contact with these sorts. Governments change and cultures evolve. The old games become silly as history looks back and thanks these individuals by way of the favorable narrative.

Hell is other people. Perhaps hell is the entire world, both internal and external.

But heaven is the higher ideal.

Heaven is the muscle by which we may lift the weight nature has assigned us.

Find your weight. Discover your difficulty.

Fight your most terrible fight, for yourself and the rest of us.

Justify your existence, and discover the world is a simple place.

Passion is Pride

Attempting to change the world according to one’s vision is a tremendous act of pride.

It is a declaration that you are not some lowly creature, unworthy of being, but instead an entity with divine creative agency.

To create is to declare you are worthy of creation.

To transform the external is to put faith in the internal.

The passive and the malevolently destructive suffer most of all from a lack of faith in their own humanity. They see the aspirations of others as vain, and believe all ambition stems from a domineering greed.

To them, all billionaires are evil, and all artists pathetically self obsessed.

Fortunately, most do not subscribe to this sort of nihilistic self loathing.

Most people think the world is improvable, and thus worth improving, Many take on this task as a personal responsibility, and trust that compensation will come as an inevitable result of their efforts.

If you recognize your creative impulse as a fragment of the divine, motivation and pride will become your default mode of being.

And if the word “divine” bothers you, think of it this way;

Your consciousness is the result of three billion years of reiterative design and engineering, eventually resulting in the human brain. And you don’t have to be religious to recognize the human brain is the single most complex object in the known universe.

So be prideful, without hubris. Understand what powers you possess, and what responsibility those powers bestow upon you.

Because without that pride, without that profound self belief, what right have you to create?

What right have you to exist?

Pride is a necessity, not a luxury.

And those without it condemn not only themselves, but the entire human race.

 

 

Life Game Theory

Life must be a game because if it is anything other than a game it is torture. The difficulties, cruelties, and unfair situations are innumerable. Though these troubles differ in degree and scope, they are all the same in relative terms to those who possess them.

Only in games are difficulties intrinsically necessary. Only in games do bad things happen to the good, because there is neither bad nor good. Only aggressor and recipient.

And only in games does the triumphant coexist with the devastated, because they are two opposite states, inseparable as light and dark.

When understood as a game, life is clear in its directives for the human mind.

  1. You must play. If you do not participate at full strength you are losing. We as humans are presented with a binary choice; play or lose. Stagnation is failure. Inaction is failure. Those not swimming towards land are soon to drown, because no person can tread water for long.
  2. There are rules that must be followed, for without organizational rules success and failure cannot be operationally defined or attained. In life we can define failure, for death and pain are observable phenomena.
  3. Discerning the rules is one of the primary aspects of the game. Our most effective process of rule discernment is called science. Its current manifestation is perhaps reaching its outer limits of efficacy.
  4. Nested within the life meta-game are an infinite number of smaller games, ranging from the human devised such as chess, to the biologically based such as social interaction, to the atomic game of complexity ascendance by which life is generated and proliferates. Of course, all the games within the meta game are contained within one another and inextricably linked.
  5. We each are not only game players, but game makers who play a role in constructing the rules and governing principles of our immediate enviroments. This control has causal reach into the collective culture, as culture is nothing but the simultaneously held beliefs and subsequent behaviors of strongly causally linked human beings at any given moment.
  6. Due to our ability to conceive of the meta-game and consciously discern and shape rules, there is no definite limit on our role within the game, though so far as we know we as the created can never become the game creator, whatever such a thing may be, because that would imply an illogical causal cycle. Though, our understanding of the game logic is obviously limited and differs at the varying levels of analysis. Quantum physics has demonstrated how muddied the game gets at the most minute scales of observation.
  7. Human beings are capable of enjoying the game. Laughter is real. Smiles are real. Serotonin and dopamine are real and create experiences as obviously existent as gravity. Therefore, our perceptual frameworks are best structured to enjoy the game as much as possible.

Don’t Be Motivated

Why would a reasonable person attempt to do something incredibly difficult?

Why do our cultural heroes have lives that seem a ceaseless procession of self-inflicted hardship and struggle?

Strangest of all, why does pleasure easily gained make us feel hollow, whilst earned victories, no matter how small, make us feel that our souls are firmly rooted in the earth?

Because we can envision the future, and observe the present. Humans beings have the unique ability to consciously conceptualize our ideals. By our own free will, we can determine a goal and calibrate our present actions towards that goal. If that goal is not achieved, we experience frustration and despair.

Failure is the confrontation between our ideals and our actions.

Frustration, despair, and guilt are all facets of the same pain; that of perceiving that our framework for acting in the world is not adequate to meet our goals. Such a perception is difficult to accept and act upon, but doing so is the very essence of personal growth and progress.

Where in this model of human behavior is the need for “motivation”?

Hoping for motivation is putting the cart before the horse. The feeling of wanting to do difficult things is not cultivated out of thin air. That feeling is an inseparable consequence of selecting a difficult, concrete goal and moving towards that goal with an efficacious behavioral framework.

That is why failure is really no failure at all.

If you are failing, and adjusting behavior accordingly, you are necessarily getting closer to your desired outcome.

And not only are you moving closer, but you are actually accelerating.

But goal setting without proper behavior calibration is nothing more than fantasizing.

Action taking without close analysis of results is mindless labor.

Motivation in itself is just an emotional high. It doesn’t help you. It doesn’t bring you closer to what you want. It’s only a feeling.

What matters is how that emotion is applied in action, and from what stimulus the emotion arises.

Are you motivated because you are accelerating towards your goal?

Or because to not be motivated would be to spiral downwards into a depression?

These are difficult questions. How could they not be?

Easy questions are not questions at all, for if they are easy one already knows the answer.

Easily achieved goals are not really goals but whims, shared by drug addicts and toddlers alike.

So expect difficulty. Expect failure. Relish in self-examination. Take pleasure in adversity, and above all, hold onto your ideal.

Because without a clear ideal to move towards, your life will lack more than motivation.

Meaning itself will whither and fade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Is Insanity

Why do we create things with no clear utility?

In the hopes that another person will understand the artifact of our personal experience. That someone else will recognize themselves in our creation, and by so doing allow for a moment of perfect kinship.

Art is nothing but communication.

Artists are those who find conventional means of communication insufficient for their personal experience. Those who have inner storms and glories that conversation cannot translate, that standard speech cannot make intelligible. And so they splatter paint onto the canvas, forge steel, craft words, form melodies and do so compulsively until the result is something they recognize as themselves, but also more than themselves. This, the transcendent work, the timeless masterpiece, is the goal of every creator.

Every artist has their own motivation. Perhaps they are attempting to justify their own existence. Or maybe they are making their own gravestone, something to stand beyond their lifetime as a sign of significant existence. But each of the manifold motivations contains the same seed; loneliness.

The artist hopes to be understood, no matter what they may tell you.

For why else would they create at all?

Therein lies the angst making paradox.

The great artist must hope to be understood yet they must never let that end direct them. To submit to that motivating hope is to be swayed by convention. For if you aim at being understood, within or without your lifetime, nothing you can make will transcend your narrowest limit. All will be restricted by your fear. The deepest, noblest depths of your unconscious will remain submerged, untamed by conscious direction and ecstatic abandon.

This is why most art is neither good nor bad. Instead, it is nothing at all.

Within it, you see the artist’s loneliness, their hoping for esteem and understanding strapped around their ankle like a weight, holding them back from what might be an honest expression.

Art is Insanity. Art is the weirdo’s only chance at pure kinship, raw communication. It is the solace of both loners and Kings. But if your fear and desperation contain you, the insanity will remain where it was formed. Deep within you, hidden and waiting for release.