Bleeding edged sword

​Its reassuring, and at the same time depressing, to find that the same underlying snippets of neurocircuitary can drive exactly opposite behaviors.

Reassuring because most of our shortcomings can act as our strengths. Clichéd much? Well… I’m stressing this possibility only at a more neurological level rather than in the usual self-help tone.

Depressing because, sadly, vice versa.

e.g. The exact systems that work to desensitize us to painful or stressful experiences also work to make us take the beauties of life for granted. One of these effects prevents us from misery, while the other rips off the essence of life from life.

The difference death makes

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What harm does a bullet do to anyone or anything in it’s brief transit through flesh?

Pain?

What would that be? Nature’s way of alarming it’s subject of harm to it’s body? Why alarm for that? For protecting it from the inevitable? Pain would indeed be a harm in it’s absoluteness, yet be as absurd as everything fundamental in the universe: life, laws of physics, origin of universe etc because it can’t help at all in preserving life indefinitely, and is thus pointless in the greater picture of life and death.

Death?

Death of a man is the annihilation of the universe for him, something that adds great weight to this philosophically absurd event, but only for a while. As always, it gets exponentially absurder as we move out to the greater picture. In this case, the greater picture of one’s death, and thus of his entire universe, is the death of the actual universe at some point in distant future which, again, is absurd since what meaning would annihilation carry when creation carries none? What then makes death a mournable crisis, apart from the emotional connotations? If Absurdism, the philosophy, is the uneasy chronic belief in man’s inability to unravel the answer to the infamous question of “meaning”, death is it’s acute implementation in which you couldn’t procrastinate over the question anymore and finally receive the greatest blow you’ve always feared, even if you philosophically claimed not to give a damn.

Inconvenience?

If a dying man leaves behind a family which relied upon him for it’s food, there sure is some inconvenience in death, inconvenience to the dependents. Ironically, such harm is again in form of pain or death of the dependents. We’ve already seen how absurd such harms would be.

So?

So, all the bullet did is shout out loud to the world the inherent meaninglessness of the universe, only to be silenced soon by the psychobiological defenses of the listeners. It tried doing something, but failed. It did nothing.

Rebirth and the death of purposelessness

Last week I survived a fatal head-on car collision, owing to some random impulse that had made me fasten my seat belt. The person who had crashed into my car died. I had dropped into an altered state of consciousness and my recollection of those moments is pretty fuzzy and dream-like , something that makes me think that If I died it would have been an easy painless death. It’d be a lovely death too since my favorite philosopher, or more broadly my favorite man, Albert Camus, died in a car accident too.

The aftermath is interesting. It has two paradoxical aspects:

ONE that it has made me see life through a broader perspective, sharply reinforcing my already strong sense of absurdism. I’ve been feeling like walking dead and all of a sudden the ticking of my death clock has started being audible, too audible to let me live a normal life again.

TWO that I’ve realized that I don’t want to die since I was badly craving for life moments after the accident. Previously, I thought I’d embrace death whenever it came upon me with an absurdist’s courage. I was so wrong. The reason, however, for the urge for life was someone I loved. I couldn’t imagine them living a life anywhere near normal without me. I had to live for them. This has made me realize that my life isn’t meaningless anyway. I’m living for someone’s smiles and that someone is living for my smiles. This mutually perpetuating cycle of meaning is absurd too of course, but at individual levels these meanings are real, and worth giving up the obsession for meaning of life for.

Anger Control, Philosophically

There’s moral nihilism. Morality is but necessary. Necessary not for equilibrium in society. Necessary emotionally. Something should be there to tell us what we have to feel, and how we are to behave in response to actions and attitudes of others. Our biology doesn’t tell us anything there, nor does our rationality. Some sort of morality models floating around us have to be internalized to maintain a steady stream of such information. These morality models aren’t always formal, not always doctrines, not always written. These aren’t internalized consciously. Our minds pick these up all on their own, perhaps to fill up a critical gap in our ability to judge, decide, and react.

Since there’s moral nihilism, there’s no global consensus over absolute rights and wrongs. Such consensus is impossible. This is good. This can be exploited. I get angry over stuff so easily. All it takes for me to get rid of these emotions is to internalize an alternative model of morality, and hence an alternate judgment. This trick plays really well, such that I’m able to tolerate what the most tolerant of minds couldn’t. I’m not always able to do this, especially when i’m overwhelmed with emotions already. But I’m learning with time how to kick off this defense at the most optimal time possible. Perhaps you could too.

Justice is a human Invention

My sister is sitting on the couch for the second month, trying hard to grasp the content of her science textbook for an upcoming exam. She’s so devoted. In an era ruled by technological distraction, her behavior strikes as surprise to me. She has no direction in her life, no big ambitions. All she needs is to pass the exams and yet she continues the effort with dramatic determination.

Contrast that with me. I’ve attempted most of my exams without reading books at all, since class one. Although I wouldn’t make dramatic scores, I’d achieve more than most others. I precisely realize the downsides of my behavior, but that isn’t the topic today. What made me feel sad is the striking difference in the things different people can do, and in the efforts required to do those things. I know such diversity serves many purpose at larger scales, it still hurts. It hurts to see my sister, and others, read the same page over and over for hours just to grasp the concepts. I could blame my educational system and textbooks for that too, but again that’s not my topic today. I’m talking about the injustice that prevails across all aspects of nature.

I realized that justice, something humans talk of as a simple concept, is rather a complex invention, perhaps an innocent attempt to compensate for the absurdities and inequalities thrown upon the living by mother nature.

An invention no where else to be found.

Science vs Absurdism

If you know what life is for, this one isn’t for you.

Finding the meaning of life is one quest many of us will venture into at least once in a lifetime. The quest shall be fruitful to most. Others shall end up in the philosophical limbo called Absurdism, the philosophy that the question of meaning of life is unanswerable and shall remain so forever, essentially making existence meaningless. The problem doesn’t end there. Taking life as meaningless but continuing to live it is paradoxical and this paradox feeds the agony that shadows the entire life of many absurdists, more so when life gets challenging. This troubled absurdist then seeks philosophical texts or engages in deep contemplation in order to solve this paradox. Some lucky ones are able to flee it by solutions proposed by philosophers like Albert Camus, others flee it by fleeing absurdism itself, consciously or subconsciously. A few unlucky ones remain clueless in the canvas of their contemplation. I’ve been that unlucky one. I dealt with it through science. How? Well…

We know evolution works by selecting the more viable of organisms and dropping off those not fit enough to face the challenges of the environment. This continuous evolutionary selection reinforces those traits in the living which help them survive. What would be the single most universal trait, amongst these many traits, which if absent would bring down the entire skeleton of life? It would simply be the will to live, called the “survival instinct”. This instinct is the one behavior that all life forms universally share, with no exceptions. So yes, the one reason we live is that evolution has hardwired us to guard our lives. And that’s it. There’s no more to our reasons to live. All else, all those reasons people say they live for are defense mechanisms that keep this absurd instinct cloaked. This survival instinct is the ultimate reason why despite all the absurdity of life, despite all the troubles… absurdists continue living it. We don’t have other options. Our hardwired mind keeps us from committing suicide unless it’s overridden by the strongest of emotions.

The conclusion is simple. Living is a biological obligation. And since, there’s no way out, what option do we have other than expending our energies in making it beautiful and livable for ourselves and the generations to come?

Click here to discuss.

Rational Basis of Misanthropy

Ready for a dose of pseudo-philosophy and irrationality? (Yeah I somewhat lied in the title)

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Nature is sick. Each single concept in the whole ecosystem has an evil dimension of some sort.  Animals brutally tear apart other animals for food only to be themselves torn apart by some other animals later. Animals lucky enough to evade their natural predators are struck by disease which again translates to pain and suffering. Apart from being so brutal in implementation of this food chain, Nature is so “empathetic” that it wipes off the weaker species altogether from existence in the name of evolution. While we may get disgusted at a man tearing apart another creature for material gains, similar activities amongst animals appear to be intrinsic part of nature, and benign, to us. Do they not? Nature is, by nature, selfish, is mathematical. It will favor whatever is good for its own equilibrium, not what’s more “humane” or kind. And ironically this face of nature drastically contrasts with how it is perceived by those who personify nature over theistic or spiritual frameworks.

It shouldn’t be surprising to expect human race to inherit traits and behaviors which favor or facilitate its own survival, a phenomenon unmistakeably common amongst other animal species. I admit mankind isn’t as apathetic as Nature itself and the additional element of emotions plays a major role in damping the ill effects of its animalish selfishness, but still it’s based over the mathematical framework of survival. I’m not being irrationally pessimistic here. I know all people lie, are biased, have double standards,have hatred in their hearts and biological drives driving their behaviors. I believe these facts can be extended to the conclusion that the root to the problems humanity faces is neither materialism nor religion. It’s the human nature itself.

Most, or many, men are misogynists, women  are misoandrists. Godless ones want to tear the religious ones apart. Religious ones want to kill those from all other religions. Younger ones hate adults.  Adults hate their next generations and call their children impulsive, less competent or sometimes worthless. People always hate governments regardless of how well those perform. Patients hate doctors. Employees dislike their bosses. Businessmen are in war with their competitors….. At the end it’s hard to find love that is unsoiled by hatred and pure of any ulterior motives. At the end… it’s NOBODY’s fault. It’s the way we were built.

The solution to the problems of pain suffering and immorality, should one consider these as real problems, is none but one: Global homicide. Ahem. Sounds weird. It indeed is weird. But saying “No human problem would outlive the human race” would be a truism, and as a truism it shouldn’t be easy to argue over it. And as the Human race is universally in some sort of trouble or pain, I’d rather call this Global homicide “Pan-human Euthanasia”. Well, if the the first thing that crossed your mind when I was talking of homicide was gore, I have a better idea. What if today’s human generation decides not to have an offspring at all and so wipes off humanity from existence in a totally peaceful way. Oh. It appears neither are possible, not yet at least. Then why not live with all the stupidity that surrounds us and stop thinking there’s a solution to the problems we face?

All ethics and morality models suck. Let’s just face life the way it is.

Paradoxical love

I wrote this back in December last year. Much has changed after that but it stands to be allegorically as valid today as it was at that time.

Its nippy. Winter has just set in.  The new moon is shining murkily, high up on a starry sky. It’s the new Hijri year moon. As Talha ambles back and forth on a dark rooftop and gets dissolved into his inner self while fixing his gaze at the Ursa Major, hundreds of miles away Ayesha sitting in her room’s window meditates while sighting the same constellation.

Talha is expecting a year full of success. As he treads the withered winter leaves, his thoughts undergo rapid transitions. Over the years, he has learned getting the most out of these mind trips. Ayesha is thinking no different. But hidden within these similarities are  a host of differences which makes them entirely different two’s. Talha is a modern man. He wants to see the Muslim world innovate in everything less the perpetual laws of Islam (The Shariah). As a result he has uncoupled culture and tradition from religion itself and has distanced himself from the former. He has a Blackberry in his pocket, a Sony Vaio in his brief case, a Land Cruiser Prado in his garage and a comprehensive presence over the internet.  In Ayesha’s world, on the other hand, everything is upside down. She looks at luxury and revelry as sin.  According to her, the highest conceivable standard of life is that what the Quran narrates of Momineen and for that reason she plans to cling to the orthodox Islam without being adventurous and innovative . Talha puts faith in Reason and rational thinking whereas Ayesha is a headstrong adherent of Ishq. Both of them are unaware that their lives are going to connect in the coming years, despite the extreme philosophical discordance.

But then… Talha gets back into his centrally heated apartment and heads straight to his miniature praying room. He switches on the spot light which dimly lightens the prayer mat in such a way that the visual distractions are blacked out. Ayesha stands up and after shutting the window and moving the curtains turns on the lights which she had switched off to avoid being seen from outside. And then, both of them are ready to spend the next hour praying tahajjud.

And so despite having different paradigms for life, the differences slowly fade away with the actions originating from these paradigms. In the end , there is no one who acts like Talha more than Ayesha in the whole wild world, and vice versa. Their convictions are two. The conclusions are one.