Opinions

Why do people think opinions are relevant?

I was talking to someone recently about free will (ugh, I know. Can’t I sing any other tunes?). I was talking about research and little experiments that are interesting but don’t necessarily PROVE anything. My intention wasn’t to prove something, as if I were capable of doing that, just have a conversation. But what I was saying was based on data/studies. The philosophizing can come afterwards, based on some sort of truth/information and fun wild speculation. And maybe the conversation will spark some new insight and I’ll have grown, intellectually, because of it. After I finished talking about a few of the results that make me question what sort of free will exists, if any, he said “The way I feel, I don’t think anything is as strong as my free will.”

Basically, that’s the end. There’s nothing more to talk about. He can think whatever he likes. He can, in the face of overwhelming data, decide to believe anything he wants. Evolution isn’t true. The world is a square. He’s Jesse James reincarnated. We actually live on the moon but some optical illusion prevents us from observing it. Which makes the moon square as well as the earth. He can go through life satisfied with his answers. But he wasn’t simply claiming that he would believe in free will no matter what, he was going on as if his belief in it made it real. As if his belief is evidence supporting the belief.

Opinions don’t deserve respect. You can have any opinion you like but that doesn’t mean it is valid. If you bring creationism into my EVE 100 lecture hall, I will laugh at you. For some reason this is controversial. But it’s plain to see when looking at extreme positions. I hope you don’t respect people with beliefs that some races are superior or one of the sexes is.

And I’m not laughing at you because I think you’re wrong. I’m wrong more often than not. Most ideas will be wrong. There’s nothing to laugh at there (except in lighthearted ways. ie – the way I laugh at my friends, and they laugh at me). But if astronomers, physicists and the like, come to a general consensus about the approximate age of the universe you can’t chime in with, “Well I have my own ideas that I will be teaching my fourth grade class.” without some sort of incredible new evidence. If you do say that to me, I will laugh at you because there’s nothing else to do. You aren’t asking for a conversation. You have no evidence to produce. You have a belief, which is fine, but it makes for a terribly boring conversation partner.

Random extrapolating time.
This causes a lot of problems in politics. It works the same way as the internet.
Exchanging ideas through debate and open dialogues or in comment sections and message boards? Beautiful. Shouting opinions at each other without worrying about evidence or logic? Welcome to politics and the internet. There are a million other reasons for this inability to communicate well (especially on the internet, anonymity anyone?) and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out others were more important than this one. Just a thought.

Btw my favorite condescending rejoinder:

Your view’s the kind that needs strong glasses.

OOOOOOOH, NOIR BURN!

Opinions

Halloween

Looking for some costume ideas.

Edging into my late twenties, I haven’t taken part in any Halloween festivities in a long time. Also, I don’t drink or do any recreational drugs, so I hopped off the Halloween party train long before most kids. I missed those years of heavy Halloween partying, heavy Halloween drinking and the adult costumes. A handful of years ago I happened to be in Santa Barbara around Halloween-time. I was told that it’s a week long celebration there, and on the evidence, I would have to believe it. It was nuts. Masses of half dressed people stumbling through the streets. It took us almost an hour to find a parking spot. Though we were definitely in no danger with all the scantily clad police and fire-women. We weren’t even there to join in. my friends’ band played a show around there and I was the merch guy/shlepping. (Aka I was a close friend so I helped them do shit.) anyway. We had a friend in UCSB and crashed at her place for a night. Just a coincidence that it was Halloween and insane.
Flash forward. Someone I’m very close to has a baby and it’s (she is, gotta get used to it her being a human) awesome. As a non-reproducing member of the species I have to latch onto friends and family for any baby experience. I love that stupid tiny human more than is reasonable, and marvel at evolution for making me feel that way. It really is pretty damn neat. Now I have a good reason to dress up again. It’s been nearly a decade since the last time. (Wow, I’m getting old.)

That was an unnecessarily long way to ask, what the hell should I be for Halloween? And what will you be if you are dressing up?

Ideas:

Alien from Alien/Aliens (cons: a lot of work, scary for child, probably not comfortable)
Bert from Mary Poppins; chimney sweep style (cons: not many. May cost a little money, but surely everything will be at thrift stores. Bonus: can spring for decent clothes and wear the pants, shirt and vest again.)
A scientist (cons: little pretentious. can’t think of any favorites with distinct looks. Carl Sagan would be possible. Darwin: can’t match his beard. Others look like normal ass people.)
Someone from UP (cons: not my favorite.)
A yuppie (cons: not sure how it’d play. But you know satire or whatever.)
Kurt Vonnegut (cons: would probably look like mark twain, which wouldn’t be terrible but I don’t know much about mark twain and don’t want to do a disservice to the fans)
Santa

Halloween

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Robots robots
I don’t know what to do
Bloody eye balls
replaced by red metal
Burning insides
Ripping my body apart
Why can’t I run
My legs have been torn off
Oh no oh no
Close your eyelids now
Please hold on
I’ll make it out alive
Weeeee
I’m going to die with you

my eye is shut from pain

my brain is turning to liquid

where will I go from here?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Crisis

I’ve been in an existential crisis for the past 15 years.
Eventually it starts to feel like a personal insult. The world playing a trick on me and laughing with all its friends. Whispering in the ears of others. Telling them the secrets that I’ve been searching for. The secrets buried in time and knowledge. Secrets you don’t have to look for if you don’t want.
That’s the first trick. You aren’t supposed to start. Once you do, the flood has begun. You can’t seal that crack in the dam. And doubt drips in drop by drop. The crack widens. The doubt flows freely. The wall breaks and I’m consumed.
I open my eyes to the drip. It’s still just a drip, but it’s not stopping. It’s as constant as time. I took a hammer to the walls on my own. I wanted to see what else there was. It was overwhelming assaults on the beliefs that made me.
Sometimes when I’m laying on the concrete floor of my prison of identity, doubt wetting my clothes and hair, I get a glimpse of the sunlight. The infinity spreading through space and time. It’s not longer reducing me. I feel no purpose, just existence for right now. And it fills me with desire.

Crisis

Feeling Old

I don’t know about you but when I was a kid I could sure as hell waste a day. Whether it was a day of nonstop tv or video games, I could tune out for hours at a time and reluctantly be pulled back to regular life by Monday/school or my mom throwing something at me.

It wasn’t every weekend or all summer long, but a day here and there was easy. I remember sitting in a very uncomfortable rocking chair all day playing Nintendo 64 with soda cans lined up next to me. (Before saying “this is why American children are over weight,” I played sports too and was/sort of am a fit son of a something, so chill out.)

Anyway, today I had no plans. I’ve been sort of busy all week and spending free time reading like a madman, so I gave myself today to binge watch netflix instant or whatever other nothing I wanted to do. About an hour in I was losing my mind. I was watching some random show on netflix that I can’t even remember and already felt the beginnings of a headache. After one more episode I gave up and started reading, Anagrams by Lorrie Moore, and drinking coffee, juice and water.

I already knew that hours of tv annoyed me, but it seems like I can’t do it at all now. Just another thing to add to the list. Fast food is occasionally alright but usually gives me an upset stomach now. Same with soda. Need more sleep. Can’t skip meals as easily. And all of a sudden water feels good to drink. Oh, and posture is important, who knew?

It feels morally and physically wrong to not do anything. Even if it’s as simple as reading a book or going for a walk. Maybe biking downtown to get a cup of coffee and watch people go about their day. Writing a little something. Adding an idea to the list. Or combing through my half ideas I’ve scribbled in my notebook. Something. Anything.

Feeling Old

Emotions

Why are emotions important?

Consciousness contorts feelings into unrecognizable shapes. The hate and anger, the sadness and fear, the happiness and love. Those made sense in the past. They guided our survival. But the heartbreak serves no meaning today. That band you were part of has expanded from a few dozen to hundreds of thousands (and many more for networking polyglots). A potential mate rejecting you means you go to the next bar, the next coffee shop, or the next very specific dating website. Leaving your group as an adult was a lot more difficult when you couldn’t drive home, or for the worst situations, to a town a thousand miles away.
The fear is misplaced in relationships and prejudices. It’s focused on public speaking instead of risks to our lives. Our emotions are largely meaningless, misappropriated relics. But they don’t have to be. I can’t intellectualize mine and probably never will, but I’m trying to understand them better. I’m trying to learn that what I feel is not necessarily important because our bodies can mislead us. We are a mishmash of conflicting desires, ideas and beliefs. Sometimes we hold them all simultaneously. The anger I feel doesn’t make sense. The sadness I feel doesn’t make sense. The love I feel is misplaced. That doesn’t make me less angry or less sad or less in love, but maybe it’ll help me realize that I can feel those things, I can feel everything, without needing to act out in any way that I may later regret. That the solutions I feel would make things better don’t line up. I think I’m fighting for survival. Or I’m saving face so I don’t lose my standing, my rank in my group. It’s a lot of misfiring. Chances are, I’ll never see any of the people around me ever again. So fuck my face.

But we need them don’t we? A touch at least. Who wants to live without passion? Who wants to live as a robot? I might as well give up now if I thought I’d never let myself feel again.

I don’t want the abolition of every emotion. I’m looking for middle ground where emotions don’t rule us completely and logic doesn’t dull us totally. But where we can see what the response is for and see how to use each one. So, maybe, we won’t be ruled by unimaginable lows or recklessly seek temporary highs.

 

*unedited. apologies for errors or half-thoughts.

Emotions

Learning

A sense of self is nonsensical to my flailing understandings.

I am falling into a fearful world without a single “individual”
Yet, you and I are building up to something worth noting.
We are creating because only we can.
Realizations make our field of view zoom out.
The limit is being pushed towards infinity.
Our existence, vanishingly small.

How many people can you remember?
Will I be one?
Will you be one?
How many billions have lived?
If we can’t change the world,
we can try to change ourselves.

There’s so much of everything that it becomes meaningless
The letters are out of order
I can’t make sense of life anymore
A key element is missing.
I can feel it,
But maybe I can’t trust feelings.
I’m afraid I don’t have a choice.

 

Neuroscience and evolutionary psychology are somewhat unsettling fields. I grew up thinking a certain way about who I am and why. I thought it was me. I controlled everything about me. First learning more details about evolution chips away at the feeling a little. The brain does a lot.

But it opens something else. It’s beautiful really. How our brains work. How our sense of self is formed. How we can knock it down and examine it.

It requires a drastic shift in thinking though. One that takes time, for me.

Learning