Archive for survival

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?

Five, six, pick up chicks

Posted in Fighting, love, martial arts, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2009 by wizardsmoke

The other day, I found myself on some Pick-Up Artist blogs. I think I got there via some links on Open Your Heart to the Love, a nice blog that links to mine. Pick-up Artistry sells for the same reason anything does: false mystique built on basic insecurities/needs. But social advantage is all built on basic principles: good presentation, clever first impressions and social deceptions, taking advantage of the lulls in social interactions (using one’s will to overpower another), consistency and camaraderie, etc.

The tips Pick-up Artists give are nothing new or special (though their open embrace of sexual manipulation is a little questionable). The same rules apply in all contexts of social presentation, most notably when confronting potential predators or romantic partners. So here are the rules to dating and survival in a nutshell — the tenets of social presentation:

  • Rule #1 — people will determine whether they are physically attracted to one another within the first few seconds of meeting just as two people (or animals) will determine who is the more dangerous predator within seconds (it’s largely intuitive)
  • Rule #2 — present yourself well; don’t immediately reveal your weaknesses or give in to neurotic behavior and don’t rely on others to guide you
  • Rule #3 — do not get emotionally involved in the social situation; maintain a persistent, persevering attitude, but only say half of what you want to say — be “professional”
  • Rule #4 — maintain good posture; back straight, head up, knees/shoulders relaxed — stay somewhat sober
  • Rule #5 — Be a real person: be genuine about your likes and dislikes when necessary, and have healthy (social) hobbies to pass the time in life.

So of course, since many people have monogamous relationships, and people who know how to fight are not all psychopaths looking for rumbles, most of us ignore these factors in our social scenarios except for those times when we’re on the prowl.

But none of this matters anyway, because the most important things in life are finding food and shelter. New Agey magical crap is for rich people with too much time on their hands, and on some level, the same goes for romance, haha! And even if you disagree with me, you gotta admit, the modern notion of free-choice romance and marriages (as opposed to fixed marriages and so forth) is only for people with extra time.

Wizard’s Blues

Posted in Future World, Political Science, Reality Bites, Relationships, sex, sex and violence, society, Stayin' Alive, The Arts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2009 by wizardsmoke

Mammalian birth is a very strange act. As you become more aware of your body and organs, you realize that you were actually nurtured and born from a womb. All these organs were once physically attached to a mammalian mother. And those were attached to a mother as well, and so forth back into the earth itself.

Then when we’re born, we naturally attach to the attitudes and habits thrust upon us within our first environment. So, naturally, a child thinks everything a parent does is wise or worth following. But then you age and realize your parents are just people too. And then people you know start having kids and you realize that it doesn’t take any special qualifications to be a parent. The worst authority figures in the world, the most irresponsible people ever, will often become parents and have children who thusly admire them.

I guess that’s why child abuse is so disturbing, because children have such one-pointed needs to look up to someone. Strangely, there are different strands of child abuse. I sometimes think giving birth is an abusive act in general, especially considering the overpopulation issue these days, but hey — what can you do? Be a despot? Nah — too much competition in that field!

What shocks me is when people who have no curiosity about the world or anything at all. They grow up, get married young, never read many books, never pursue any personal interest, watch shitty movies, have kids and live off of their parents’ money or stay within some religious cult or group. For all purposes, they are completely isolated — like medieval villagers in the cyber-age. It doesn’t really matter to my life, so you’re probably wondering why I care about anyone else’s prerogatives, so long as they don’t directly effect me.

The truth is that eventually, when it all falls apart, will I have to step on other people? Will I have to be nice and let people walk all over me? It’s all fine when the economy is okay and there’s not that big of a problem when the economy is good. In fact, you could say economic output represents a nation’s self-esteem, well-being, directly tied to their “spiritual” concerns. I mean, who is generally into taking Yoga and martial arts super seriously? Upper-middle class people, for the most part (a generalization, and generalizations are bullshit, but hey). But when the money goes away, who really cares about lofty spiritual ideas and democracy?

There’s no need to worry about me, though. I don’t plan on being an evil jerk. And you know why: it’s because I’d rather die than live in a sick world, where there aren’t any tigers or bears but it’s overpopulated by people who use crappy computer stalking applications like Facebook.

I remember as a teenager, believing that stupid nonsense about ignorance being bliss, about intelligence alienating people, and so on. But now I think a lot of mental suffering is a choice (as opposed to physical/environmental suffering). I wouldn’t say people necessarily like suffering, because that implies that all of our behaviors are based on positive or negative choices in the psyche. Not true. People simply become obsessed with ideas to greater and lesser degrees (or not at all). That’s why when your friend is continually obsessed with the statistics and stories of serial killers, it’s a little creepy. It’s not like serial killers just decided to do bad things — they generally became obsessed with desires or exploring dangerous ideas that eventually possessed them to act it out.

So more and more I think that morals are naturally arising internal laws of group survival, whereas all obsessions are pretty equal of being just those: obsessions which lead to more of the same. In any case, I am worried because “democratic art” (capitalist media + culture) often ends up betraying a “weak spirit” — and what is art but the most direct reflection of cultural health?


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.

Do your worst…

Posted in death, Doom and Evil, Fighting, Philosophy, Reality Bites, Relationships, society, Stayin' Alive with tags , , , , on September 30, 2008 by wizardsmoke

In times of moral crisis
the darkest places in hell
are reserved for the neutral

A well-known idea espoused since ages past by various individuals is, you’re only as good as you are at your worst. It is particularly relevant to the martial arts, where our skills are likely only going to be tested in the worst of scenarios. And that’s true in general — our survival instincts, the tough decision-making, our moral integrity, that faith (in ourselves) in the face of fear — they’re all tested during absolutely shitty situations when we have no food, no friends, no money, are stressed-out, are tortured, are intoxicated, etc. etc. A personal Sir Gawain and the Green Knight if you will… or Spirited Away… or The Game … or… ah whatever, you get the point. It sucks and 90% of people would seriously compromise their integrity right away.

Thing is, most people in society are fairly upstanding human beings. Because they’re… sorta neutral on issues. After all, it’s hard to make decisions when you’ll be blamed for the outcome, isn’t that right? So most people are fairly friendly and somewhat charitable when times are remotely good. But when times become hard, when the economy suffers (hint hint) and when tough decisions have to be made, it becomes much tougher to be a good person.

A good person though — what is that? It’s a pretty abstract term. I guess I’d say “good people” do not actively scheme or go out of their way to take advantage of others. A good person has chosen not to act unnaturally, not to act without a prior cause to respond to. A good person doesn’t mug someone else because they don’t have the emotional conviction to believe in such a cause. Sorry if my descriptions are pretty vague and generalized (not to mention biased), but that’s how it is.

It’s more reasonable to say we all exist somewhere on a “moral” scale, on a scale of Nietzschean drives. But drives don’t seem morally relevant except in hindsight. For even seemingly good people — don’t they sometimes have to choose to ignore the evils of their state or society in order to feed their families? Are they bad people too? Yes, they probably are. Maybe it’s a bad example, as I never understood the whole family-over-friends thing in the first place (I’m weird like that).

Still, there is no “worst” or “best”. There is only the present moment, young grasshoppa. But I do have to wonder… is it when people are at their worst, or when they’re neutral, that they’re dead?

Two Flavors of Genius

Posted in Mysticism, Philosophy, society, Stayin' Alive, The Arts with tags , , , , , on March 9, 2008 by wizardsmoke

The ability to change is the most important skill and tradition. And the ability to synthesize effortlessly, without losing one’s dignity, character or spiritual prowess. Because it is an ability recognized only by those who have usurped aesthetic self-indulgence, who are not attached to forms and appearances and may thus mold them again and again. Such is the nature of a realized person, much like a true artist can throw away one great work and still endlessly create more. The forms of an art are both illusions and profound truths, more real than the person who presents them. However, their appearance is like a metaphor, an allusion or between-the-lines description of the real nature of what they represent.

Change is also the ability to perceive the future state of things. In the world of art, significance is acknowledged by fresh creations, new ideas, themes and modes which have previously been unexplored. We think of famous artists for their revolutionary pulse in the community. An artist must perceive the nature of their group and community, and adapt accordingly, creating what their peers can sense coming over the crest of the next horizon but not yet feel and envision. Indeed, recollecting the history of art, one can see the progression between movements as almost expected or obvious. Each segues into the next like a symphonic movement.

This is the nature of survival within society, no matter one’s skill or trade. One must be a kind of ‘diviner’ who can present ideas just accessible to peers, continuously maintaining a zone of security, employment or comfort. One’s survival does not function like that other kind of genius, the lone wolf, who tends their own skills or sword regardless of what society regards. Survival is sometimes, but not as often, awarded to a lone wolf: one whose unique skills are explored alone without regard for society (“genius is his own reward”). In fact, a “lone wolf genius” can imprison themselves in their own work, as a character of their own creation. In such a case, it is questionable whether such a person has not lost their wider sense of the world, and merely let their talent become a platform by which to be enamored of their own romanticized thoughts. This kind of genius will become like their work: predictable.

However, such genius would still push the boundaries of their own possibilities. It is only one who has become comfortable with their own abilities, ceasing to progress further, who is stale and abandoned of their muse.

Who wants to fight?

Posted in Fighting, martial arts, Reality Bites, Stayin' Alive, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Martial artists are a demographic replete with douchebags, right? I mean, who wants to spend their free time learning how to efficiently beat people senseless? Douchebags, that’s who.

Yes, most martial artists are assholes. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily terrible to associate with them. You just have to make sure you don’t become a jerk yourself. And that’s tough, because you’re studying martial arts so there’s a good chance you’re already in that 95% demographic of people practicing who are jerks. Ah…but isn’t this the case with everything? It’s just scarier when it’s a mean, bullying Aikido-shihan-tulku, am I right?

A good martial artist (and teacher) should be able to isolate and/or incubate the asshole element prevalent in every group of annoying tough guys or macho romantics. Macho tough-guy bullshit is a character flaw that arises out of ignorance as to the nature of proficiency in survival technique and ability. And it’s some weak emotional self-involved fear of weakness, impermanence (which is inevitable, oh snap!) and repressed homo-eroticism.

Now, firstly – violence is bad. And people often romanticize about the good old days when martial arts schools were really proficient and legendary. But this kind of ability just arises out of necessity because of the common violence of the time. Which is to say, people will always adapt and develop proficient methods of survival inside and outside of society. Living in constant fear of day-to-day violence is a pretty shitty situation, and those are the parameters that create skilled fighters. Paradoxically, when life is dangerous is when people are most “alive”.

The fundamental motivator for learning martial arts is usually this: in life and society, many people are assholes and will try to fuck with you incessantly or try to humiliate you (hell, you’re probably doing it to them!). You try to stay out of the way of the serious jerks who run the world and drive aggressively and think they’re important, and if all that fails and you find that someone still is trying to hurt you (after making yourself out to not be a target or a threat, and trying to walk away) you might need the ability to defend yourself.

But you know what? Chances are, you won’t get attacked walking in the street at night. And yet the chances are still good that you’ll get done over by some portion of society. Hell, to me, the scariest people are lawyers or doctors who carry guns. You know what I mean? Those guys are the real macho tough-guys to watch out for.

Don’t worry. One day we won’t need fighting techniques to defend ourselves. Actually, scratch that… you don’t need them now!