As Above, So Below

Moral conflict is egregious to the mind, it drains it out of its vigor and that thing you call your conscience is always an embattled turf.  It’s what makes us human, seemingly, but it’s also ostensibly the source of some of our misery, at least.  Our human mind is pre-programmed by default, to respond to the underlying norms and expectations that rule our society, to pick up on doubts and stretch them beyond their true magnitude because, that’s just how the human brain works.  Like a sponge, it instinctively catches all the droplets of turmoil or conflict that sluices into and traps them inside it.  Unless you replace the sponge with a new one-which is the very idea of lobotomies-you cannot get rid of those accumulated defects.

The human brain picks up on every tiny detail, spanning from the very early instances of your existence to the present, stocking up every chamber of your memory with eerily precise details of every moment passed.  Every action and reaction is a result of that process, a kind of decision making system with various choices but a definite answer, because your brain makes you who you are, and everything you do, is very idiosyncratic.  Even the moral conflicts you have, are rooted in the same decision making process.  And what’s worse, when you’re ambivalent, it just means that you’re inherently indecisive.  That is, your brain isn’t idiosyncratic, it’s malleable, protean even.

Ambivalence and indecision are by far, the most obvious reasons for moral conflict.  For whatever reason that a grander morality is ever being imposed on us, the ambivalent mind seeks to eschew it, while at the same time, it’s dead set on trying to decipher the answer to this moral conundrum.  But this solution cannot be found anywhere because someone else thought to define morality for us, just like everything else is being decided for us.  Forget about agency, we’re not even allowed a semblance of equanimity.  Everything has an answer, everything is tantamount to that idiosyncratic process that that ”someone” thought of for us.

The very cornerstone of human civilization is war and bloodshed.  Nothing good ever happens without an act of violence.  It’s the universal truth of this world, we cannot have goodness without evil, we cannot feel love without feeling hate-in a nutshell, the polar opposites that we’ve been wrestling with since the infancy of our civilization, aren’t just the negation of one another.  They’re concomitant with one another.  So, the definite answer to any sort of moral conflict would be to acknowledge this duality, instead of toying with diametrically opposed concepts that have been superficially ingrained in one’s mind.

It’s dangerous maybe, to acknowledge this duality, to find that everything rests on the same pillars.  But it’s important I think, to face this reality without seeking to undermine it.  That, for whatever reason you might have done something, for whatever reason something happened to you, it’s not just an isolated event that can be described in terms of a schism, as we so often do.  It’s dousing in nuance, but more so, it’s very simple because what happens next, is in fact, a very similar event.

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The Difference Between Sexism and The Patriarchy

Sexism is pervasive in all cultures, and it disproportionately affects women more than men.  Sexism can range from trite comments to fully fledged misogynistic diatribes that hinder women’s progress in society as they perpetrate an outrageous idea of what it means to be a woman.  Likewise, several advertisement campaigns and magazine articles diffuse inherently sexist ideas about women, that also contribute in crafting an apocryphal image of femininity and womanhood.  Whilst all that is alarming and doesn’t seem like it’s gonna ebb out in the near future, it still isn’t anywhere near close to the evil of The Patriarchy.

Whilst it’s mostly men who are responsible for disseminating sexist comments and ideas, The Patriarchy consists of both men and women who see it as an ideology, more than anything.  It becomes a way of life as both men and women are expected to abide by its rules and tenets.  The Patriarchy reminds me of Airstrip One in Orwell’s magnum opus 1984.  It has eyes everywhere and one perceived misjudgment can land you in big trouble, except that instead of political persecution, you’re subjected to social alienation.  The Patriarchy demands that you forego all pretensions of happiness and freedom, and adopt a lifestyle that aligns with its values.  In so doing, a woman loses her identity and is defined by her gender only.  The Patriarchy doesn’t see women as individuals, but as an appendage to men.  Women should always be in thrall to the men in their lives, otherwise, they’re defective in the eyes of the Patriarchy.

The Patriarchy seeks to stifle female pleasure, more than anything.  It forces women to second guess their very identity and imposes a uniform idea of what a woman should be like.  Women who don’t conform become pariahs, renegades for whom there’s no salvation.  You see, you’re not allowed to have an inner voice when you live in the Patriarchy.  You’re not allowed to be different, to be petulant and impetuous-only men are allowed the freedom to express themselves and to be whoever they want to be.

The Patriarchy insists on persecuting women for moral crimes that men are allowed to commit.  Women are encumbered by the odious demands of chastity and sexual purity.  Should they buck this extravagant demand, they will be chastised for daring to opine.  Women aren’t allowed to have opinions, because you know, they bleed every month so their opinions are automatically rendered invalid.  But then it gets a little bit drearier.

Imagine that you’re a woman living under those conditions and you do your best to respect every single tacit demand.  You are the model daughter, the model wife and the model mother.  You devote your life to the domestic bliss of your family and you never aspire to anything beyond that.  Being a sexually liberated individual is something you might confine to your nightly fantasies and having your own take on things, might attract some undeserved attention.  The Patriarchy vandalizes your free spirit and restricts your interaction with the world around you but hey, at least you’re safe.  For now.

But the thing is, The Patriarchy is very much the product of specific cultures and religions.  They’re all interrelated and enmeshed in the same toxic, backward thought processes. They’re anti-intellectual and anti human-rights.  Autocratic systems that demand you surrender your free spirit lest you become socially isolated, do not care for your humanity, nor do they allow for one’s intellectual growth.  A society that routinely blames women for men’s actions, is inimical to women’s sense of self.  Women are dehumanized and judged not on the content of their character, but on how compliant they are with the Patriarchy’s rules.

It’s a state of chaos and inertia, a space where nothing good can grow because women are the very lifeblood of society.  Those who’ve been indoctrinated will inculcate the same toxic ideas in their children and their children will do the same, until the very idea that one day men and women can co-exist on equal grounds, will become obsolete.  And this is not a fer-fetched depiction of reality, ask any of those women who live in culturally archaic societies and they will vouch for that.  There’s no glimmer of hope, no help from the outside, The Patriarchy is guarded by impenetrable walls.

There’s No Word For What I Have

Uncertainty seeps into the fiber of my very being as I breathe the morning air.  I have no idea who I am, it’s a new day and I will morph into today’s character.  I play it well, because I’ve done it a thousand times over.  I feel nothing and I don’t know myself well enough to tell you anything and yet I have to pretend like I do because your pithy questions are exhorting answers from me.  How do you look at me and go, ”she has the answers?”  I know you don’t want me to lie, but you leave me no choice sometimes.

I’ve no idea what I have.  I just go a little crazy sometimes but that’s okay because we can’t have it all in life.  I’m proud of what I have and I think nothing is worth losing it for, I welcome the crazy with open arms because a modicum of happiness requires a lifetime of self-sacrifice.  I’m willing to do it, there’s nothing that’s worth this kind of life, this kind of wise.  Even my erstwhile teenage self would agree, she lived to this age without injury so ephemeral bouts of misery are nothing to lament over.

My heart is coaxed within a fortress of indifference that rarely ever flounders.  But when it does cave, I experience all sorts of contradicting emotions that barely make sense to me.  I mean, do you ever wonder why you cry?  Because I cry for no reason at all.  And I don’t want science to tell me that my hormones, or my chemical make-up or my cerebral wiring is responsible for that shit.  I am responsible for my own misery and I take full responsibility for it.  This is the only thing that I’ll ever plead guilty to.  This is just the way I am and I do not think, I am in any way, defective.  If anything, this extra dose of self-awareness makes up for all the perceived defects.

I don’t like people very much, even those who are close to me.  The more they open up to me, the more they make me want to run away.  Funnily enough, there’s a wellspring of purity in me that expresses an aversion to fake shit.  I don’t understand why people are inherently so hostile and petty to one another and I don’t want to be part of their mediocrity.  Early on, I learnt to focus on the world around me; the beauty of the universe and its deep mysteries, literature and music, movies and art.  I had no interest in their histrionics.  But I’m getting sucked into it, nonetheless.

What can I do, I’m just a tiny girl in an even tinier world.  I know I have an ugly soul and an even uglier perspective, but it doesn’t bother me at all.  Deep down, I’m a good person, I’m objective and realistic and I champion goodness above all.  It’s just that, I’m too familiar with the human condition to find the beauty in it.  It’s just not feasible, it’s preposterous to think of a human being that’s perfect because no one is perfect and yet, we’re supposed to accept those imperfections and love them as they are.  But I’m loath to say, I’m a perfectionist.

I make tons of mistakes whose significance will only hit me when it’s way too late to act upon them.  I’m not gullible but I trick my mind into being gullible at times, because the girl gotta live, you know.  I would say that I’m not guided by any sort of underlying moral principles but you’d think I’m a sociopath, which I’m not, I’m just sort of autistic.  But because I’m a girl, the autism doesn’t reveal itself too often.  Girls can be shy and reserved and depressed, I mean, who cares right.  I feel sad for autistic boys for whom there’s no respite from this awful disease, from the pitiless glare of the world.

I’m a discursive writer and a garrulous participant in motivational inner talk.  I’m self-effacing because I despise narcissism and I possess an iota of self-awareness that keeps me grounded.  I’m thankful for that.  I’m no better than the guy who sweeps the streets or a crackhead.  It would be stupid to compare myself to anyone at all, because the only thing the world hasn’t assigned a pecuniary value to is, the human self.  Okay yeah, we need money to be alive but isn’t it just beautiful that capitalism hasn’t yet destroyed the idea of the self?  You’d think that years of capitalism would culminate into the irrevocable destruction of the self, but I guess we still have a few years left.  A few years with a ticking bomb.

I feel numb but I’m not unhappy.  I am cold but I want to share the little warmth I have with the world.  I am stupid but blessed with an intelligence that I rarely ever use.  I am young but I feel so old inside that I might as well dig my own grave and hide.

Don’t take any of this seriously.  If anything, imagine the curve of a smile as I conclude this very ambiguous piece.  Everything is funny.

Everything.

 

 

The Technological Dystopia

A few weeks back, an autonomous self-driving car killed a pedestrian in Arizona and this sparked a heated debate about ethics in technology, more specifically AI.  I hate the term ”artificial intelligence”, it is so contrived and clearly a misnomer.  There’s nothing intelligent about a pre-programmed software undertaking the commands a human being is issuing.  It’s a technological servant, if anything.  The idea that computers and machines will one day surpass us in terms of cunning and intelligence, just boggles my mind.  It is redolent of the adage ”God is dead and we killed him”, as it points to us humans, being rendered obsolete by the robots we bestowed upon the world.

It is such a highly nuanced debate, because for one thing, we need AI.  At the rate things are going, we’re going to have to manage our time more efficiently and outsource the stuff we can automate, to keep up with the growth trend.  If the Anthropocene epoch has taught us anything, it’s that economic growth is considered as the apotheosis of our species.  And to maintain that trend, we’re going to have to devote our time to producing more things, more material things to keep up with this patina of growth.

But with pre-programmed cars and the likes, machinery that have the potential to kill or injure human beings, comes a great responsibility.  How would we find the perfect algorithm to avoid any such tragedy from occurring?  How will scientists grapple with this philosophical quandary and what should we expect when hordes of automation will become the norm in our daily lives?  This is an ethical cul-de-sac that will rely mostly on game theory projections, without an iota of introspection, because automation is also synonymous with dehumanization.

We can’t dovetail AI with philosophy as of yet, because we failed to address the shortcomings of humans when the technological evolution was nearly upon us.  There was no attempt to reconcile human nature with those daunting tools that will define our future and replace our productivity.  There was no semblance of trying to arrogate to ourselves moral guidelines in order to strengthen our species on the basis of our humanity, because once we’ve designed tools that can follow the trail of our thinking, we’ve basically ceded half of our existence to them.

We’re finally beginning to see this technological dystopia shaping the world around us.  Massive technological corporations are routinely interfering in the elections of the most democratic countries in the world, with little to no sanctions being imposed on their activities, because for one, they’re bereft of that moral responsibility and secondly, equity is not a prerequisite for growth.  Social Media companies sell our private information to the highest bidder and see their stocks skyrocket as they think of newer ways to exploit our private information.  Internet media companies callously shove away any competition and exert a monopolistic influence on the market, and no one bats an eye.  After all, everything is fair and square in the race to economic growth.

It saddens me to see people so obviously hindered by their own primal instincts and yet do nothing about it, as the world is about to enter into an era of massive technological upheavals.  If we do not address our own lapses as a species, we’re only going to worsen things, and that would definitely lead us into a fully-fledged technological dystopia.

The only way the word ”Artificial Intelligence” could make any sense, would be if we persevered to replace our primal, barbaric instincts with an artificial peaceable way of being.

Is Selfishness A Virtue?

Jonathan’s girlfriend’s brother had just died and he didn’t know what to say to her to comfort her.  The rudimentary ”there, there” might not be appropriate in this case, given how close they are and Jonathan felt a bit handicapped in this area.  He couldn’t bring himself to empathize with his grieving girlfriend, but he tried his hardest to lift her spirits.  Except that, he should have waited at least 3 weeks before trying to make her laugh.

This prompted a slew of introspective questions in his mind.  He couldn’t understand why his grasp on human interaction is so lopsided and centered around himself.  The concepts of guilt and grief are as alien to him as are the feelings themselves.  Whilst what he feels for his girlfriend has all the traits of romantic love, he wondered why he couldn’t feel her grief and provide his heartfelt support during such a tragic moment in her life.

The words ”nihilist” and ”indifference” were sloshing back and forth in his mind but deep inside, he knew he was none of those things.  He has very distinct idea about the type of life he wants to lead and his is not a disaffected way of being.  On the contrary, everything reverts back to his very being, his experiences and his opinions.  He just cannot comprehend the experiences of other people, no matter how hard he tries.

But he wanted to understand the catalyst of such a jarring hole in his personality.  Where did it come from?  Is it a pathology to be unable to focus on other people’s emotions and desires?  Is he at fault for being so self-centered and inured to other people’s expectations?  He tried various channels, to find the answers to his conundrum, including religion.  He was not interested in any particular path per se, he just wanted a decisive watershed moment to happen to him, from which he would conclude whether he was indeed debilitated by his coldness, or whether his way of being was just fine, albeit different.

He came across Ayn Rand, a writer and philosopher who expounded on the virtues on selfishness and self-interest.  Self-interest doesn’t mean that a person should disregard the well-being of others, simply put, it’s based on individualistic fulfillment.  In this era, altruism is touted as the utmost moralistic principle that guides the virtuous human being, without much else being said about it.  We just throw around these virtue-signalling words because of how perfectly they align with our norms, thusly providing a sense of security in being normal.  It all fell at one swell swoop for Jonathan.  He always viewed rectitude as a hokey way of being, a dire attempt at fitting in.

He wondered then, if his way of being would be at loggerheads with everyone else’s, because you see, those are questions that everyone asks themselves from time to time.  He concluded that him being the focus, doesn’t remove the focus from anyone else.  In fact, he is the sole observer to the vastness of the world and the universe, he is the only person who understands what it is like being him, he has lived through things that are endemic to his consciousness and memory.  So, it was a cinch- self interest is the sole motivator in his life and there’s nothing wrong with him.

Surely, he couldn’t understand the underlying emotions that guide people in their lives, he couldn’t emulate others in their humanistic proclivities but he could be himself and allow himself the true gamut of this worldly experience.  Suddenly, he didn’t feel hamstrung by his apathy; he felt empowered, emboldened and most importantly, at peace.

 

 

Tea Drinkers and Weed Smokers

We were walking in single file, our arms held aloft to ward off the boughs that impeded access to the forest.  The saplings seemed to have grown since the last time we’d been there, and although it was irksome to trudge through them, we did it nonetheless.  There was nowhere else we could go, this island being replete with onlookers and sidelong glances throwers, all of whom just want a piece of you.  It beggars belief that life on an island can seem so persecuted at times.  Sometimes, it seems like a cruel joke.

It is a cruel joke.  Imagine being born on an island and not ever being able to enjoy the full extent of that very experience.  The lavish greenery.  The turquoise ocean.  The nonchalance that the island life should provide.  On the contrary, lawmakers and politicians here do their best to stifle your free-spirit and the corrosive patriarchal culture even more so.  What a travesty.  I wish it was like Blue Lagoon.  You know, just walking around half naked, with my disheveled hair covering my tits.  And a member of the male species to keep me company.  Swimming in a creek in the morning, eating pineapples and drinking coconut juice.  Our afternoon naps, us entwined in a hammock. And our evenings, traipsing along the beach.  But instead, the island life that I’ve been bestowed with, is just a dreary reminder of the epoch that we live in.  Unfettered capitalism and mindless consumerism.

It’s not a utopia to wish for simpler things.  It’s a reminder of our self-imposed plight.  To have such a beautiful backdrop pocked by retarded shit that some constipated fools in full sartorial display came up with, is just bathetic.  I mean, at least, let me smoke some weed on the fucking beach.  But these fucking mannequins cannot be bothered to let the islanders appreciate the fucking island life.  I blame the archaic culture they’re enmeshed in.  And their blatant apathy to others’ viewpoints.  That’s how you know, you live in a low IQ society.  A bunch of pre-programmed assholes, whose self-worth stems from their inability to empathize with their fellow human beings, make up the crux of this country.

I wonder how different things would be if the culture wasn’t that jarring.  If everyone was on the same page.  But that is the utopia.  At least years of colonialism could have overridden the toxic Eastern cultures that propagate even more toxic ideas like patriarchy, kowtowing to authority like half-starved dogs, blind adherence to authority and so on.  But the colonialists couldn’t be bothered to remedy that situation I suppose, or rather, leaving a country to hostile sects of hardcore religious people would slow down progress, thus casting a positive light on outsiders ruling us.  It’s just sad that such a beautiful country is tainted by a bunch of retarded megalomaniacs.

But I’m still grateful for the simple things.  Floating in the ocean while staring at the dark sky, contemplating the vastness and thinking about the futility of it all.  I’m grateful for that.  Gazing at the greenery aboard a decrepit bus.  I’m grateful for that too.  Do you know what else I’m grateful for?

Having someone like you read my bullshit.

I Feel Like I Died That Day

The tube perforated the windshield and was hanging between us.  I was incredulous.  I really thought I was going to die.  Everything happened in slow-motion, the car would have rear ended the truck, had it not been for the large tubes it was carrying in its trunk.  The road was slippery, the result of hours of rainfall and we surely could not have anticipated it happening.  To us.  Two accidents.  The first one, so trivial.  The second one, kind of scary.  I mean, falling in love, is very scary, for someone like me.

It’s weird how a simple foray into quantum hell can awaken thousands of questions.  What if, I was already dead?  And, at what point did I actually die?  I’d like to think that I died that day because something else saw the light.  Love.  I know it’s corny, I usually hate reading about people’s schmaltzy love stories, and their corollary, the inevitable break-ups but I think it’s cool when it happens to me.  To this day, my corrupt soul was toying with concepts much larger than it could entertain, and it never occurred to me that one day, I might actually say it aloud-that I love someone.

It’s beyond me, and I cannot control it.  I must be dead for this to be happening to me.  As someone who’s always seen human beings as less than worthy, I started seeing the beauty of humanity in that one person alone.  That must be, what being in love feels like right?  It’s visceral but cerebral at the same time, part of me gets turned on by his intellect, the other part by everything else.  And that scares me, mostly.  How can someone blindly trust another human being?  And yet again, I feel like I would.  I do things to him that I would not normally do to other beings.  Spice.

I’ve always been pretty stupid and impulsive and only death can explain this sudden u-turn-from me being so utterly devoid of human emotion to actually being able to feel genuine untarnished love for someone-because nothing else could have aligned my destiny so perfectly when I so unrelentingly fight against my natural instincts.  I must have died twice.  The first being the day of the accident, the second being that day when I successfully weaned off from a toxic relationship.  Both had the same intended result-they got me closer to him.

I know the concept of a soul-mate is so painstakingly wishy-washy but I’d like to believe there’s someone for everyone.  Even if, death is what it would take to bring them together.