Archive for love

Self-help: peons, paradise and panache…

Posted in Daoism, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, Religion, self-help, tai chi, Ultimate Reality, Wizard Quotes, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 3, 2009 by wizardsmoke

There are a lot of self-help guides and ideas floating around out there. Ways to become powerful, to become successful, confident, how to seize the day, etc. They’re mostly gibberish because they pitch no real skill. To address real problems of confidence takes practice in an area relating to the problem. How do you cease social anxiety? How do you take down violent criminals or fight off bullies? How do you talk to attractive men or women? How do you stand up to your boss? How do you find a soul-mate, a great teacher, or a great skill? How do you make a lot of money on the stock-market? How do you attain non-craving or non-attachment and ultimate supreme enlightenment?

The same way you do anything: you practice the necessary skill until it becomes normal. You do it until it is no longer an unusual thing, it becomes routine. So much crap in life, so much unnecessary mental suffering is really just people whining — people trying to avoid doing the grunt work. The grunt work is all there is! Civilization is built upon shitty jobs! When you fuck up — do it again! Do it again! Again! Again!!!!!

In fact, in life we should never expect any kind of perfection or success. Life is constant struggle, constant change — diamonds are mined from hard work, and nothing else. Any successful person, who did not have to do any hard work or hard practice to get to their position of influence or affluence, is worthless. They do not know what they are doing. They are the spoiled prince, the media heiress, the run-of-the-mill actor, the corrupt politician, the failed business tycoon; they are the true meaning of charlatan, poseur, parasite and liar. The depth of their ugliness is endless.

And so it is with everything. If you want the bigger returns, you need to put in more effort than other people.
This is why having competition amongst fellow students, friends and family can be a good thing. We are forced to practice and improve ourselves with our free time. Life’s rewards are the personal results of hard work. Too many people just sit on their asses watching mediocre television shows every night, while looking for love in the gutter (bars and clubs) on the weekends.

And not that anyone is ever satisfied by romantic love no matter how much they yearn for it. Every other person I meet who finds out I’m deep into Taiji or music, they immediately fire off some nonsense about how they really want to start learning that stuff. But almost none of them will ever start. Why? What do they want, free lessons? My approval? All a person needs to make life reasonably fulfilling is a couple of things rewarding practices to pass the time, things that you would hate yourself for not doing.

The worst thing I can imagine doing is taking some salaried job in a corporation, so that I can buy a house in a developed community and raise kids in a world I never fully comprehended in the first place. And yet, the irony is that this is the grunt work, the shitty job, of civilization. A lot of people try to fill their existential hole with sex, drugs, money, kids, status, power, religion, and a million other things. And they’re unsatisfied. They have nothing. Because there is nothing, but they only know that intellectually, not experientially. And so it goes on.

Learning multiple skills is essential to understanding the essence of metaphor. Metaphorical understanding and realization is valuable stuff, as Aristotle put it:

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor… it is also the sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in dissimilars.

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Second-guessing sexpots in a hierarchy of modern needs

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, health, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Many who are obsessed with sex and sexual conquest will validate their own desires by rhetorically claiming that the engagement of numerous successful sexual exploits indicates they possess deeper survival instinct mechanisms, and therefore dominant, superior genes which will be likely extended to another generation.

Ha! Subtle theory. This is a very cynical view because it’s narrow-sighted, based exclusively in boring empirical analyses which assume that humans are moist automatons absent of free will or choice outside of physical drives. In fact, the cosmic view (not the same as ethical view) of sex-obsessed, narcissistic, quickie pick-up types is not far from the party-line agenda of “healthy skeptics” — or whatever other utterly annoying, arrogant label athiests and stage-magicians tend to throw around when describing why they don’t believe in things that are not physically visible and ripe for them to manipulate. (Here’s a hint as to why: stage magicians are so obsessed with manipulating other people because they themselves are deathly afraid of being manipulated. Hence they don’t believe in anything that cannot be “proven” empirically. Nice predictable, self-centered view of the universe you have there, assholes.)

But anyway — why is sexual desire (lust) the thing that yanks us back into samsaric existence over and over again? What is so great about it that it overrides other desires as the focus of our attention? Why are romantic prospects more interesting than career prospects, when we have no control over the former?

A quick hierarchy of the fundamental survival needs could go, in order of necessary (albeit situationally unrealistic) acquisition:

  1. rest or sleep (shelter)
  2. food (sustenance)
  3. physical dominance, or an acquired role in the social order
  4. sexual desire (procreation, in the case of heterosexuals)
  5. everything else (social acceptance, education, spirituality, etc.)

The first two definitely have to be satisfied before the third. The third is sort of a toss-up and could fit somewhere after sexual desire, within social acceptance, as a sort of novelty or luxury of life. In modern post-industrial, capitalist/socialist society our social role is a little more subtly defined than in, say, a tribe of hunter-gatherers, a caste-based system, or a feudal kingdom. For instance, in modern society, most people maintain shelter and food throughout their entire lives, even if they don’t work very hard. There is an infinite spread of wealth between the financially poorest and wealthiest, and there are certainly a number of homeless people, yet most have somewhere to crash and something to chow down on. The quality of luxury varies, but it’s rare that people just suddenly lose access to these basic needs (not to mention the strange preference some women have these days for skinny, weak, whiny, white guys). As I said, one can consider social identity to be a luxury outside that of “citizen”.

Of course, imprisonment is an interesting case. Prison fucks up the entire chain of priorities, because it enforces the shelter and food from above, limiting the freedoms of inmates’ survival instincts to the role of social and physical dominance. Even sexual roles are relegated almost exclusively to status games in prisons (although you could argue that sexual roles are always status games anyway). There seem to be similarities between active military service and certain brands of imprisonment actually.

Back to sex and why it’s important to us: sex is fun because it’s the ego’s ultimate feeling of power, importance, purpose, meaning. Ha! I think Freud wrote something about this. Sex is the ultimate trick of the universe — the illusory notion of self-importance. And of course, when you analyze it, and ask what makes sex, like anything, important or purposeful, you realize there is no purpose. It’s just like when you ask a girl why she loves to dance: “It’s just fun!”

So everything in existence is just fun for it’s own pleasurable amusement. And if you think about it, in society, the ultimate goal is simply procreation. Fulfilling other desires, like wealth, fame, status — these are all secondary or complementary to procreation. A lot of us will disagree with this, but it’s possible that those who choose not to procreate have qualms with the nature of the world or existence (I have one friend who thinks they are doing a better service to the world by not having kids and by allowing the world some extra space). They are a product of modern life, a luxury of modern society, though I would wager some people who choose not to procreate now would have done so in the past.

It’s common knowledge that men and women who dress in intentionally revealing clothing often suffer from insecurities about their own self-image and self-esteem in general. It’s also mentioned that men and women who have excessive sexual relationships suffer from devalued notions of self-worth (although folks like Ikkyu or Baudelaire or Austin Spare could hardly be considered guilty of such things, so it makes me wonder if some people aren’t just unemotional and have inflated self-worth and excessive boredom).

So my fundamental question: those who have the viable option to procreate or have sex, and instead opt not to — do they have the greatest self-love of all? What do you think?

Powermonger

Posted in love, New Age Baloney, Relationships, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , on August 27, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Today I took the time to muse about power! In my mind, power indicates a kind of social separation — perhaps social isolation. To attain power, one has to focus the mind one-pointedly on that goal to the exclusion of other things. I’m being deliberately vague by using the term “power” because it can refer to lots of different kinds of power: financial/political/social power, physical/sexual power, intellectual/mental power, etc.

Power indicates the ability to force other things against their will, to temporarily go against the laws of nature. Certain religious philosophies try to affect the individual by reprogramming the mind to go against the impulsive avenues the human ego uses to try and sustain itself in life — grasping for a tangible immediate control over one’s surroundings. But power does not last anyway — power fades and abandons the user in time, because power is a temporary flux of momentum.

But who loves weakness? Nobody finds that attractive, except bullies. Our artistic and cultural feedback often isolates (romantic) love instead as the experience closest to giving existence a tangible meaning, and perhaps in some way, love is complete abdication of power — beyond weakness, even. Love is the switch that bypasses the ego’s need to assert itself. Sexual desire is often conflated with love, for love is the term to indicate this experience that is so foreign to some that it only appears in their sexual proclivities.

Power has no healthy place in society — and love is the abdication of power. The more shallow the drive for power, the more blatant and anti-social it becomes.

Don’t Tell Me!

Posted in Happiness, health, love, Magick, Mysticism, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2009 by wizardsmoke

If love isn’t a choice, it isn’t love. Love is only special because it is directly in opposition to our best survival-based interests. And I don’t mean love as in sexual desire, because that’s the impulse to procreate. Love is compassion for other people who are actually a threat to our survival.

Thus spake the ‘Smoke on a dorky post to one of his goofy Google groups. Not that anyone paid any attention, but nor should they. People need to follow their hearts! Ha! but you didn’t hear it from me…

Anyway, one confusing issue is that there are no actual correct or right answers to anything. There is only more of the same in any given direction. In the famous scene from The Matrix (already looking so dated!), when Morpheus says that he can only show the door, but not open it for Neo, he’s implying the idea that only you can decide what you want to do. There are no universally correct answers, because you have to live with yourself and your decisions. It’s all relative. It’s like dating someone who alternately wants you to be their slave and boss. As long as we have someone telling us what to do or doing things for us, we won’t be satisfied.

But what is satisfaction anyway? It’s just the absence of craving in the mind. That’s why camping in the wilderness (if you can find it these days!) or periods of extended vacation or retreat are so nice. The environmental humming — the distractions — that the mind feeds on in our daily routine, it all fades away and the mind no longer has any garbage or junk food to cling to. Even if you aren’t actively seeking out some kind of deep meditative experience, you’ll begin to relax and rediscover forgotten memories.

In the entertaining book, North Toward Night, the writer/international sailor Alvah Simon spends a year by himself, living in his small sailboat, in the frozen Arctic passage between Canada and Greenland. During the winter, he finds himself in nearly 24-hour darkness for months. Sitting there in the dark with nothing to do except read a few books and eat, he describes how his memory and imagination grew incredibly strong and potent. And there is no mention of religious practices or meditation or other stuff so many people will often attribute to these psychological events (not to mention, the author’s interpretations of other events as magical or willed by God is pretty charmingly naive). He simply spent so much time on his own, without any other individuals (“social distortion”) to feed upon or supply his mind with choices or actions to mimic.

Actually, what’s so crazy is that our actions reflect our environments and surroundings and social spheres even if we consciously make an effort to resist being affected by them. But there’s no escape — it’s like advertising, you don’t consciously buy into the ads — they infiltrate your subconscious. But you can certainly chill out, see what’s going on around you, and choose what path to follow in best accordance with your desires.

Shyboy

Posted in Doom and Evil, Fighting, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by wizardsmoke

The times in my adult life that I’ve actually cried were not from periods of grief, calamity, extended depression or “sadness”. No, I’ve often found that tears come in times of last-minute catharsis. Sure, you could say an excess of joy weeps, but I think it’s more like, reassurance in the face of impending despair. That is, the happy or joyous things that make me cry do so because I realize suddenly that they almost didn’t happen. Considering how much of life is rough around the edges, cold, lonely, prickly, and so forth — when something really nice happens it’s such a spiked contrast. Really horrible things, they simply rob a person of emotional output — they’re catatonic experiences.

Watching a film like Barefoot Gen makes me want to cry. Ah, I’m no stranger to sad or depressing movies; but Barefoot Gen is like if you combined the two Ghibli films, Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro — both totally heart-rending films — into one horrific account of the Hiroshima bomb blast.

Anyway, truly nice things and people are pretty rare. It takes a lot of strength to do things selflessly, being able to do good things without freezing up or letting oneself become drained or emotional. I admire people who can do that, even if I have trouble expressing it. But I wonder where this all contrasts with the necessities of the world today. Israel/Palestine, Russia/Georgia, US/Iraq, African genocides, indigenous peoples, etc. How nice can you be when you’re forced to choose loyalties between military powers or states or religious conflicts? People talk all big about principles and ethics and morals, but I think everyone fundamentally chooses their family and friends before ideologies.

I guess really nice people have no loyalties to anyone in particular, just a particular set of moral qualities. But that is directly threatening or at odds with nation-state laws. And that’s why some things are so tear-jerking — because they’re so rare. After all, to reign people in, to keep order and live in organized societies, we need brutal laws which punish people inappropriately to their actions.

Painkillers (+ Love)

Posted in Beauty, Drug Abuse, Happiness, love, Mysticism, The Arts, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 12, 2008 by wizardsmoke

I am routinely amazed by the utter incompetence with which people recognize artistic and emotional depth. My guess — no! intuitive reasoning, is that all people feel the same emotional sensibilities but have different poetic capacities for experiencing them. So a person with lousy taste in music does not need particularly good music to satisfy their emotional needs (or maybe they don’t care about music, but whatever — adding that variable to the discussion just makes things complicated).

For me, the best music that I have found makes me feel like I’m on some opiate-type painkiller. You know the drill — total basking in the emotional depths of ecstasy and melancholy simultaneously, with complete tolerance and compassion for all creatures and situations in existence. Everyone, absolutely anyone, who takes painkillers will feel this way under their influence… and yet when the same emotions are evoked by music, art, literature, social interactions, etc. many people will either consciously attempt to suppress them or dismiss them as completely cheesy, saccharine, trite and so forth. Whyyyy is that?!?!?!

As soon as I perceive a piece of art, a person, a location, a picture, anything, I’ll sense the energy coming from it. It’s the most basic thing a human being does. I guess the ecstasy I describe as emanating from some really great, “virtuous” music is similar to the cliche description that most people adhere to when they mention that they get a “natural high” from meditative practices. That natural high is pretty good: a cross between psychedelics and opiates. Absolutely fantastic. But it takes so much work to maintain! Not that I mind, but…

I once read a Kurt Vonnegut interview where he points out that Freud’s famous comment about how religion is “the opiate of the masses” would be better translated as “the aspirin of the masses”. I agree with that general notion, that religions are just medicines for headaches. It just makes the headaches tolerable, it doesn’t necessarily delude the person. But then again, what if religious practices bring the opiate-induced pleasure I was describing? Then maybe Freud was right. But I wouldn’t have expected him to have any understanding of that…

(Twitter Smoke?)

Posted in death, love, Philosophy, sex, sex and violence, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , on October 8, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Time for a (tiny!) new post. Which means WS is going to write about one of two things:

  1. Love (sex)
  2. Death (violence)

Or maybe both. Because all existence is an obsessive dance with this pair. They’re the fundamental principles upon which all drama, all stories, all existence is based. It’s not a huge shocker, so I don’t think it’s worth consciously thinking about or worrying about too much. But it is certainly interesting. How perverse that I would find these concepts almost more alluring than the subjects they point to, eh?

Yeah, sometimes I worry I’ll get to the point where I find sex and violence so boring that I’ll simply forget to exist.