0106 – consider the pointlessness of argument

1st Sept 2013

Smoking: I had two cigarettes yesterday. I didn’t enjoy them and my mouth is icky even now. It’s not nearly as icky as it used to be following months of heavy smoking, but I’m a lot more sensitive to it now… like a cluttered table in an otherwise empty room,  comparee to a house packed to the brim with endless mess.

Syria: I saw a video on /r/morbidreality of a father carrying his little daughter in his arms. Her head was split wide open, in half. It was mortifying. I felt horribly sick. She was still slightly alive.

That said… I think it’s difficult to have an informed opinion on Syria. I have no idea what’s really going on there. I have no idea what the US’ s real reasons are for wanting to get involved. Here’s a train of thought: the North Korean government inflicts hell on its populace, too, but the US probably won’t get involved there, because China. The US/West has done all sorts of horrible things over the past two centuries, so the “right makes might” rhetoric is really hollow. It’s even kind of funny, in a dreary black humor Ha Ha People Die kind of way.

I don’t want to take sides or patronize or claim any sort of authority or understanding. All I’m saying is that things are almost certainly not what they seem- what we see and hear is very removed from the truth,  to the extent where… I’m starting to be convinced that even having an opinion on such foreign affairs is almost entirely a waste of time unless you are personally invested somehow. If you don’t have real skin in the game there is no sense talking about it: it might feel good but it doesn’t help.

What I think might help a little is to point out that the Emperor is naked- more support and visibility for whistleblowers, more questions, more demands for transparency and evidence. None of us know what Obama knows, so it’s really hard if not impossible to evaluate his decision-making. We might make the same decision in his shoes.

What we do have to do is to make it as difficult as possible for structures/institutions to exploit people’s ignorance. I think we do that by acknowledging that reality is ridiculously complex, almost nobody has any real idea of what’s going on… and we ask lots of questions.

That’s assuming you want to do something about it directly. I hate that father’s are carrying dying children in their arms, but I’m not sure if me arguing on the internet about it is the best use of my time.

3rd Sept
The year is beginning to die. You can feel it, you can smell it. Another year full of promise that turned out to be simultaneously more and less than you’d have expected. I’ve learnt quite a bit this year, and made some pretty drastic changes in my life, and yet so many things are pretty much the same as they’ve always been.

That’s the rub when trying to tell a story. There are tonnes of data points you can choose from. So there are many different narratives just waiting to be conjured up. And almost all of them are valid, defensible. At least internally. It boils down to what you want to hear. And who or what you’re accountable to.

I have a lot to learn. I am still vague and blunt, as a writer, as a thinker and as a person. I don’t like this, it makes me uncomfortable. I want to be more useful, precise. I’m not. I’m woefully incompetent and I have been for a very long time.

But conditional self-esteem is a bad thing. One shouldn’t peg one’s self worth to his accomplishments or capabilities. That quickly gets you judging other people as well, and then you get trapped in this endless competition of one-upmanship… and that might be an acceptable condition if it led to some sort of greatness, but it seems to me that greatness is a consequence of transcending perfectionism. Well- maybe not. Maybe that just sounds nice, and greatness is a consequence of a kind of pathological sickness that’s socially acceptable as long as the warm and fuzzy police are okay with it. As long as you stick to the arbitrary rules and deliver on your promises.

Eh, why so negative. There’s not much point discussing greatness anyway. It might be vaguely inspiring or something, but the important thing is to do the daily work. And that’s ugly and unglamorous as heck.

So negative. I think it’s because I haven’t been shipping. I haven’t been doing very much anything. My work rate was strangely diminished. Too much nonsense on my plate. It’s my own fault- I start too many things and never finish them.

Here’s something I have to get off my chest. Maybe I’m saying it just to feel better, but here goes: sometimes I don’t give a fuck. In fact, I don’t give a fuck. About anything other than myself. I am a selfish person.

I like to think that I’m consistent about this. Nobody owes me anything. Nobody is obliged to do anything for me.

I believe that people deserve their space. Nobody should ever feel obligated to do something that they wouldn’t otherwise want to do. Exceptions might be in the case of, say, mandatory military conscription for the preservation of the city-state. I didn’t enjoy NS, but I understood why it was necessary. I can make an exception for compulsory primary school education. In both cases I think the net social benefit exceeds the personal cost or discomfort. (That said I think there’s a moral obligation for people in both education and defence to try to create more meaningful experiences for both NSFs and primary school kids, and to encourage them to learn and grow and develop themselves with as much autonomy, mastery and purpose as possible… within the constraints of those circumstances.

I’m probably going to change my mind about this very quickly. It feels like something I really can’t have fixed opinions about. It changes with the weather. But I don’t want to pretend to be altruistic if I’m not. I am who I am. I do what I can. Enough with the hopeless moralizing.

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