Religion: Killing yourself with prayer

Religion: Killing yourself with prayer

I want to stress I got a lot of great things out my fling with religion, especially some great friends and a lot of under the table style hedonism.

There were a few years of my youth that religion, particularly episcopalian Christianity, played a role in my moral compass and decision making.  My understanding of how one should act, especially as a young man was dictated by readings of Christianity. One of the most horrible skills I ever learned while religious was how to repress my desires and emotions.

There was a bible verse that really stood out to my young puberty-ridden mind, Matthew 5:28:  “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”, naturally at the time I was just learning to explore my sexuality, though, this brought me great grief. Many a night did I lay in bed, only to catch myself thinking impure thoughts which I would pray away. “Dear lord please help me stop having these thoughts, dear lord please help me stop having these thoughts” again and again and again, until I would cry myself to sleep from existential guilt.

Religion teaches this horrible skill of repression, take your natural desires, your natural passions and interest, and kill them with God. Pray them away until those thoughts are gone and you are no longer your authentic self but you are a mindless childlike servant to your church, your family, and your god.

This idea of repression of the self is central to Christianity and most religions. Angry and want revenge? No, you must learn to repress your desire and give into mercy. Not comfortable with monogamy and want to have an alternative relationship? No, you must fight these sexual perversions and never have sex out of heterosexual wedlock. Dissatisfied with your job? Don’t you dare think of getting rich, pray your dissatisfaction away and embrace meekness. The things that make the individual authentic and unique are to repressed in the name of purity. In order to love God fully, you must philosophically kill yourself.

It’s okay to be yourself regardless of what the God-Man says. The good aspects of religion are not worth the psychological damage you can cause yourself. If you have desires, don’t repress them, don’t kill your self with prayer, embrace them, be authentic.

Don’t be afraid to wing it

Don’t be afraid to wing it.

I think growing up in world of standardized education we get used to having the path laid out for us. The goals are simple: get the good grade, reach the next class. The resources are accessible: follow the steps one by one, listen to your teacher, use the tools handed to you. But this is nothing like the real world especially not the entrepreneurship path. Goals are never simple and laid out, resources are rarely just handed to us.

In the entrepreneurship world we have to learn to be resourceful and just wing it. It’s not uncommon for me to meet successful people who tells me how they “Learned to code in a week to build their website”, had to “google everything in order to get their job done”. The fact of the matter is, you can’t expect things to always work out and you can never expect things to just be handed to you, because the real world is not public school the real world is like jumping out an airplane and building your parachute on the way down.

I’m not much of a writer, my understanding of grammar, punctuation and spelling is subpar at best. I’m sure i’ve switched from first person to third randomly in at least half of my current posts. Given all that, I plan to start writing at least once a day for the next week or so. Instead of not writing, or waiting for a teacher to hold my hand through the process, i’m gonna just wing it. Just wing it. I have a network of great close friends who will help me edit, and I have a whole internet to throw my ideas against to get feedback.

I wont tell you to write everyday (though there is a lot of science that suggest it’s great for your mental health), however I will say, if there’s anything you want to do but you’re not sure how to do it or if you’ll be any good, just fucking try it. Google your way through it, ask for advice from a friend, do what ever you can to be resourceful and achieve your goals on the pathless walked.

Consider the Nietzsche quote: “On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow.” The fact of the matter is, even though we’re raised to have an easy path ahead of us, the real world doesn’t have any easy paths and we must climb to get to the top. If we never at-least try, we’ll never get stronger.

Revolution, Power, Entrepreneurship

Revolution, Power, Entrepreneurship

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.”

Anarchism: the rejection of Non-Consensual Hierarchy, The State and Capitalism (as it is understood in the marxist critique). Anarchism is usually championed as the anti-system, the complete end of all power, etc. However, all Political Ideologies are still an attempt at controlling people and Revolutionary Anarchism is no exception.

“No,” one might protest, “Anarchism is liberation from the clutches of power, it is the exact opposite of a power play!” Yes, Anarchism may give individuals increased personal autonomy, but how this autonomy is used and how society saturates itself is still a system and something that is dictated and forced onto the population by the revolutionaries. Ideas of property norms, racial relations, gender roles and so on, are things that the revolutionary wants to influence and have align with their preference. To say “The world ought to be free” is to say “I want the world to be shaped in the way that I desire it” Even non-violent means of education and debate are still just another tactic for getting people to act as the revolutionary wants, it is a decentralized attempt at control.

It’s important to note not all attempts at power are equally bad. It’s clear to most that maximization of personal autonomy is a desirable end. However, it’s impossible to escape the fact that having an idea of how the world should be, and making an effort to change the world in that direction is still an effort to get the world to conform to the standards of the revolutionary.

But what does this level of introspection do to benefit the revolutionary and help them achieve their goals? Or what tactics are best and most ethical for promoting attempting to control the way society functions?

It’s understood that the political official is most obviously an attempt at power. The Revolutionary ought to be aware of their limits and avoid such tactic, as economists have been saying for a very long time, human action can be directly planned in an efficient and effect way because of the spontaneousness of economic order. Even the most intelligent world leader still lacks the local knowledge of the individual and their preferences, their passions and their limitations. It’s easy to say “This country needs more bakers due to a bread shortage!” It’s impossible to know if those bakers could be better working as farmers or if the shortage isn’t due to a lack of bakers but instead, to a lack of stone workers  to make ovens. The Intelligent Revolutionary knows that any sort of direct control of social norms and economic systems is not only unethical but is more importantly a disaster that never leads to desired results.

If direct control is not a feasible choice, what tactic then can be used by the Revolutionary for building a society structured in their preferred way?

The Entrepreneur provides an answer. It’s proven time and time again that business has a very powerful influence on social preference and therefore social order. In the times Uber has gone to a city without permission from the direct controllers, the population of that city learns to love the ride sharing concept as an alternative to the Taxi Cartel. Once the city officials suggest enforcing their anti-uber ban, the population is outraged! As all political ideals are an attempt to shape the world as the advocator of that ideal sees fit, that must be taken into consideration

Naturally any intelligent political official, in their desire to be re-elected and maintain control, knows there is too much of a risk in acting against the Entrepreneur and learns to back off.
Here we have the Entrepreneur, wanting to see a world free from unjust taxi-cartels, using the most effect non-violent tactic for shaping their universe. Knowing the preferences of their opponents, the Entrepreneur works not as an utopian, sitting around hoping for things to change, but as an indirect (yet very powerful) influencer of public preference, and therefore having power of their external world.

Relationships, Patriarchy and Dating Norms.

Relationships, Patriarchy and Dating Norms.

I was on the phone with her, lying on my bed as I’ve done time and time again, we were discussing the dating norm of men making the first move.  “It puts a lot of unnecessary stress on a young man”, I said in protest of the standard. Her response caught me off guard,  “No, you would be against that norm. You have to understand though it’s something that’s also difficult for women as they have to master the skill of communicating interest without being direct”. This was one of the most insightful things I’ve heard on dating and relationships which has lead me (and that conversation) to an interesting train of thought on dating norms.

The basic dynamic of the heterosexual 21st century western dating world is as follows: First, man makes a move. He approaches her at the party, buys her and drink and opens the conversation. Second, the woman must not show too much direct interest or be too aggressive, communication of attraction has to be done with slight hair flips, an inventing smile, a well placed laugh. Any touching or blatant sexual approaches spearheaded by the women can’t be the start of the date but have to be worked into later usually after the man has already done something like place his hand on her knee.

This is bullshit. Hetrosexual dating is bullshit.

The initial assumption that men have to make the first move is a direct result of the conception of male dominance in society. Women, being submissive and secondary, can not be the engager of the date because they are meant to be an object for the man to conquer. Besides perpetuating patriarchy, this also means less awesome dates and sex for everyone. Realistically, women are just as qualified as men to be open and direct in the dating market, but because they assume they are dependent on the man to strike up conversation, they miss out on a higher quality of dating.

Consider a party: Everyone is drinking and having a good time. Joe Talksalot and his close friend Mike Shysome just rolled up and caught the eye of Sarah Basicgirl. Sarah being interested in Mike flashes her signals of attraction to the duo. Joe, being more socially aware and able to confirm to the social norms, walks over to Sarah with Mike. The problem being though, Mike’s inabilty to conform or his lack of knowledge on social cues leads him to either be oblivious of Sarah’s advances, or completely too insecure to follow up in his preferred manner. As the night progresses, Joe’s dominance of the situation leads him to be the only one communicating his interest in Sarah, and Sarah is likely to end up going home with him, instead of her original interest. Clearly if the expectation is that Mike be more aggressive and Mike fails to be aggressive it must mean he’s disinterested.

Think about this, patriarchal social norms are not only harmful to the woman involved who might be objectified like a trophy, but also harmful to the man whose personality and dating skills don’t conform to the expectation. Less good sex, less healthy relationship, and more putting up with aggressive suitors because the dating expectation is in favor of more aggressive men, and less aggressive women.

Male Homosexual dating circles can be an interesting case study on this. Because both daters can come in from an equal playing field (both men) there is more freedom on how to progress the relationship and far more honesty on intentions and attractions. Instead of relying on only one dominant male to make the move, both males are free to act leading, most likely, to have more sex. It would seem gay men have more sex because they are more equal.

Equality and Authenticity should be the goal when approaching a potential romantic interest. If a culture gets stuck in unequal dating norms then participating parties are less likely to reach the desired goals. Instead of relying on the expectation of the dominate male to make the first move, the heterosexual dating scenes that abandon these norms all be having more, and better, sex.

Nozick and Star Trek

Nozick and Star Trek

Robert Nozick has a very famous thought experiment that can be summed up to the following: Imagine there was a machine, while in the machine, an algorithm is run that lets you experience anything you want. Thus, maximizing your happiness. The machine is cable of giving you hardship, boredom, heartbreak, etc provided that it works to maximize your happiness. While in the machine you forget you are in the machine.

Nozick would ask his students if they would enter the machine in order to demonstrate some problems with hedonism and utilitarianism, plus to argue there is a sort of objective value in reality and truth that is above happiness and pleasure.

Naturally, Star Trek has some insightful episodes with implications on Nozick’s experience machine.

The Pilot Episode of the original Star Trek series, “The Cage”, details the adventure of an early star ship enterprise crew and their captain, Captain Pike. While searching through space, they track down a distress signal on an unknown planet. Naturally they go down to the planet, finding a crew of survivors and a very beautiful young lady named Vina. But alas, the survivor crew, minus the Vina, prove to be illusions set up the Talosians an alien race to bait the Captain into Zoo Like captivity. The Talosians, a race of humanoids with bulbous heads who live beneath the planet’s surface, have the power to create any illusion they want. They attempt to use this illusion power to attempt to convince Pike to stay in their Zoo and live out his wildest dreams, so that they can study human behavior and relationships. Pike refused to be a science experiment and acts out in rebellion and radical freedom eventually becoming too much for The Talosians to handle and is set free. The plot has a grand twist where Vina, who desires the illusions and escape from reality, is truly ugly and disfigured from the original space crash. She wishes to not experience the real world and hardship of her existence and instead wants to live out a hedonistic dream world.

This episode has some interesting implications to Nozick’s theories. Though it misses the component of no longer knowing this is a false reality, Star Trek’s “The Cage” is basically another way of asking the Experience Machine question. Nozick’s assumption that people are unwilling to enter the machine doesn’t account for people like Vina who have horrid realities to face. Vina’s harshness of reality influences a desire to experience joy and utility through a false reality. It can be suggested that truth’s value is only relative to how harsh the truth really is. In events where the individual is not strong enough to handle the truth, they will feel a compulsion to escape that truth and substitute their own reality. People like Pike, who act out in rebellion to escape from reality, tend to be more strong willed and able to handle the misfortune without a need to escape. Pike is unwilling to give up his real world, because he sees value in the freedom of truth and reality.

In a later episode of the series, “The Menagerie”, a two part episode detailing a return trip to the now forbidden Talosian planet by a crippled Captain Pike, Pike’s real world circumstances of constant mental pain and physical inability is in great contrast to his original self of handsome, free, rebellious space captain. His new situation is now so harsh he feels the desire to escape it and return to his false reality in the Cage.
This episodes would suggest even if the people who are usually strong willed and desire truth will likely succumb to hedonism in the event of their reality taking a negative turn. That there is an inverse relationship with hardship and lack of control over life and desire for truth and reality.

Further expanding on the ideas, a few episodes later episode “Shore Leave”, the current starship enterprise crew (lacking Pike), takes a vacation on an unknown picturesque world. Strange things start to happen such as Captain Kirk’s engagement in a fist fight with an old college nemesis and the Doctor, Bones, being “killed” by a knight in shining armor attempting to kidnap one of the female officers. These events prove to be illusions caused by a benevolent mastermind looking to maximize the enjoyment the crew feels on their shore leave. The crew decides to finish enjoying the remainder of their shore leave with these illusions.

These episodes would imply that even those whose life is not a matter of hardship will feel the need to escape reality and indulge in temporary hedonism. The knowledge that they are free to leave makes the temporary escape more accessible to those who have a higher value in their reality. Even when life is exciting and your will is strong, there are times in which you feel comfortable escaping reality, given that duration of time is short and you are free to return.

It’s possible to conclude that Nozick’s experience machine and similar escapes from reality would only be permanently entered when reality or truth is at such a level of hardship it outweighs the desire for authenticity. Individuals of weaker wills or who have had their freedom and enjoyment in the real world so depleted are more likely compelled to enter the machine. However, individuals whose life is going well but are slightly bored or in need of a vacation will also enter the machine, ONLY IF they have the chance to leave. For these individuals, rampant hedonism only out weights truth in the event that is temporary and at convenient time. It is unlikely someone who’s life is filled with purpose, meaning and real enjoyment (one who lacks extreme hardship) will even feel the need to enter the machine expect at time they are bored.

This relationship between increased disinterest in the real world and increased desire to escape it for longer intervals, would put the Value of Truth at a sliding scale completely relative to the quality of that truth. There are times like Vina’s hardship where truth is only a secondary value and overcoming the hardship or depleting the pain of reality is a primary value thus leading to an acceptance of a permanent escape from truth. And times like the Shore Leave, where reality is getting a little overwhelming, a temporary escape is necessary to further enjoy the truth. And there are times, like most of Pike’s adventure, where permanent escape of reality is something to be rebelled against in the name of freedom and truth. If your Hardship is overwhelming but you have high freedom you are still likely to escape reality (returning Pike), if your hardship is low and your freedom is high you likely to escape temporary (Shore Leave), if your hardship is High and your freedom is low you’re like to escape reality (Vina), if your hardship is low but your freedom to leave is also low you will rebel against the escape (Pilot episode Pike)

Star Trek Nozick Chart