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.

Why Positive Thinking Matters

Why do we remember things?

In order to learn from previous mistakes, and correct present and future behavior.

Why can we project the future?

So we can foresee unfavorable outcomes, and avoid them.

The present is the only thing we can act upon. Both the past and the future exist only as images within our minds. From these images, we create our conception of the present.

Memories and predictions are the present moment’s context.

We have limited control over what we choose to remember. The unconscious mind filters perceptions for us and files them away. But in spite of that automatic process, we have near complete control over our attitude towards those memories.

Was that person cruel to us because of our inherently flawed personality, or because they themselves are inherently flawed, and are struggling to conduct themselves in the world?

Did our parent’s treatment of us cause permanent, irreconcilable damage, or nurture an indomitable resilliance?

Those choices, in how we conceive of past events, are left up to our conscious minds. By crafting those conceptions, we form the present moment’s context. This context determines our actions. Our actions determine our future.

And people say positive thinking is naive.

Just as depression stems from negative conceptions of the past, leading to impotence in the present, anxiety stems from negative conceptions of the future. This results in a rigid immobility, like that of a frightened prey animal.

But here again, we have control.

The world is not 10% as dangerous as it was when our biological systems evolved. We have a capacity for fear that far eclipses reasonable need. How can we overcome this obsolete circuitry?

By practicing positive visualizations of the future. Drown out the ugly projections. Look at them and dismiss them, again and again. Deny them the air they need to live. It may take months. It may take years. But thoughts, like animals, fight for prominence within your conscious mind. Support the positive conceptions. Do not nurture the negative with attention.

This is the essence of positive thinking; a vigilant tending to our mental gardens.

Do not hesitate to poison the poisonous.

Those flowers and fruit trees you wish to see grow must be tended to constantly. Water them with attention. Let them grow until they take over everything, even those patches of weeds you thought permanent and hopeless.

Do this every moment of every day of your life.

And perhaps in several years, you will wake up and find yourself in a Redwood forest, so strong and tall that the weeds are denied all light, all rain. These negative conceptions will perish without you even having noticed them.

That is the character of a healthy mind.

That is the power of positive thinking.

Empathy is Ugly

To practice empathy is to model in your own mind the experiences of another. It is the primary tool in human social interaction and thus is held as the utmost good. Empathy allows one to identify pain in someone else and by that identification presents us a choice of either remedying that pain, or ignoring it.

But human beings do not develop tools that work only for the benefit of others. Empathy exists because it has utility. What is this utility?

Of course, empathy is indispensable to the tribe, as it is the basis of social cohesion.

But what is empathy’s utility to the individual, apart from those benefits derived from the success of the group?

The answer begins with empathy’s ugly offspring; envy. For so far as empathy allows us to model another’s pain, it similarly allows for us to model their pleasure. The greater one’s capacity for empathy, the greater this effect.

What is the natural result of this, if one be at least marginally self-aware, or in another way of speaking, empathetic to one’s self?

The result is knowledge of the discrepancy in pleasure and joy between our inner state, and that of another. The smiles and casual grace of those higher on the dominance hierarchy stand as intelligible signs of the direction we must strive.

Of course, as in all social animals, that direction is up. Empathy is merely the precursor to the primary propellant, envy, that may serve to launch us upwards.

Those deficient in empathy will have little motivation to strive towards the top. Why should they strive, when the benefit is not apparent? When their minds are not capable of modeling the pleasure of dominance?

But those who do not perceive themselves as capable, or of possessing the potential to become capable, of climbing the dominance hierarchy will suppress their empathy. They will label it envy, placing it neatly within the category of sin. Such poor souls will have no interest in studying the great people of the past. All will search for malevolent tidbits in order to dismiss the powerful as evil, and high positions as intrinsically entailing cruelty. In doing so, their inner empathetic compass, the one designed to direct them upwards, will be rubbed clean of its magnetism. These, the unempathetic or incapable, will likely be miserable all their lives and have no understanding as to why.

How can one be happy when the utmost biological goal, a 300 million year inheritance, is conceived of as the realm of sinners?

If striving towards greatness is not good, then nothing is good. And if greatness is anything other than improving oneself, and rising upwards within the many nested dominance hierarchies that make up our society, then nothing is great.

Empathy’s utility is in telling us who the great people are, and how far from them we currently stand. Without it, we are confused and frustrated, unable to conceive of any concrete goals whatsoever. Without such concrete goals, and our struggle to progress towards their completion, there is no positive emotion. Without positive emotion, what is life?

Confusion. Chaos. Pain. And a continually confused organism can only do one thing; spiral downwards into death.

 

Equality is Evil

The surface of a liquid only becomes flat when there ceases to be energetic motion upward or downward. This is called stagnation.

Blades of grass are only equal in length once they have been cut down by a lawn mower. The pleasant smell is their chemical cry for help, the beginning of a desperate effort to recover from the injury.

Human beings are equal at no point during their lifetime, save the end. The fastest sperm wins. Our species survival is contingent on this race. The failures of the slower are precious gifts to posterity. But if equity is the benevolent principle of organization, then let us apply it. Weights for the fastest sperm, jets for the slowest. But what abominations would be made from that billion strong stalemate?

But no, they say, you go to extremes. Your strawman is ridiculous. We wish only that the sperm would begin at the same place, and all impediments being removed, would naturally all get to the same place, at the same time.

Very well then. But then why the billions of competitors in the first place, if they are all the same after all?

No, they say, they are not all the same! But not one is better or worse than the other.

Very well then. So you do not wish to make the Procrustean bed. You simply wish to scrub the demarcations from every ruler and pluck out the eyes of every judge. Because only then, with all senses dulled and metrics melted, will there be equality.

If it is another way, then what are we?

A procession of clones, going nowhere, achieving nothing, for all our striving less than savages, for at least a savage knows the weak from the strong.

Equality is evil. Let the disparities between us form the valleys across which we build bridges, and let not our ideal be a desolate plain. For not even the rain falls equally across the earth, and life is the better for it.