Posts Tagged ‘ emotions ’

Dark Corners And Rage: Part 2 The Eulogy

I think that I’ll start this with an apology that Part 1 is and will remain private.

I am a philosophical nihilist, monist, materialist, anti-theist, atomist and so on. There are those that think such people have no moral compass or reason to live and so on. I stand here in sharp contrast to those people’s ideas.

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The truth of the matter is that there is no intrinsic meaning or purpose to life and further that even those who think there is make up their own meaning to their lives. They just pretend it is about something else that none of us can see or test.

Despite the confusion over what these labels mean and what a person of these labels may or may not be or feel, I have deeply held beliefs. One of those deeply held beliefs is that the only thing we have is our experiences, our memories. These are all that we carry with us no matter where we go and no matter our situation in life. These things are intrinsically part of who we are. They _are_ important. As such, I am not averse to experiencing everything I can … even if it is painful or hurtful or harmful. To truly know what life is and what it means to be alive I believe that you have to experience it. I don’t think that selectively choosing what to experience is being in control of yourself. No, facing those experiences with the gusto of Hercules is being in control. You can’t say that you know what a hurricane is like till you’ve weathered one out. Life gives us hurricanes here and there. I try to face them, revel in it, languor in the experience of it.

Another firmly held belief I hold is that it is not possible to truly hold an understanding of what it means to be alive unless you have shared moments of compassion with another life. To accept and show compassion to another life, big or small, is to understand the reality of possibilities in connecting with another being. We live, trapped in our minds, visited only by vague impulses that render for us some representation of what it is like outside our minds. To connect with those senses to another mind at some level of compassion is a vital experience. One that we should not miss out on.

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DARK CORNERS

Very recently I was given just such a hurricane experience. It appeared suddenly and I had no time to prepare. From content and safe to swallowed by the storm. I told myself that I would stand and watch it, weather it out, experience it. When it fell upon me in full force I ran for cover. I found a dark corner and I hunkered down and hid, hoping it would lessen, that the storm would fizzle out some how. It was not to be so. There I huddled against the cold comfort of my former bravery, in the dark and lashing out at anything that came near me.

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RAGE

As I prepared for the rage of the storm I became angry. Why do I have to experience this? Why can anyone or anything take away from me a friend that I have shared moments of compassion with? What gives them a right? What did I do to the universe that I must experience this pain and grief? Why is it necessary that my friend must die? Why? I became angry. I filled with rage and wanted to go berserk. I wanted to be the storm, I wanted to be more powerful than the storm. And so I raged… I felt it fully. I wanted to kill. I wanted to rampage and leave carnage and death in retaliation for the storm.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas

I was not stronger than the storm. I could not rage enough. I could not make it go away.

Part 2: The Eulogy

Today I lost my friend. A dear friend of 16 years. He never let me down, always spoke in ways to cheer me and sooth the angers of living in the game of life. He was one of my reasons to live at one time, he helped me through many tough times. Speaking just enough to let me know how much he cares. He supported me with all that he was, always ready to show his pleasure at being near me. He was, is, my friend.

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I held his weakened body in my arms, spoke in soothing sounds to calm him.

As the first plunger sent him to sleep, no longer able to make soothing sounds, my chest began to heave.

As the second plunger slowed his heart my arms began to shake, my tears unnoticed by his stilled eyes.

I was born alone, I walk alone, and I will die alone. I know that in the grand scheme of the universe my life is no more important than that of my friend. I feel pain and grief and ANGER that such can pass with so very few people even giving a damn. My life will pass as well. It will end  and I will be no more important to the world than my friend was as I held him today.

I have experienced this anger today for the second time in my life. It opened a dark place that I must now climb out of, to find respite from the game of life. I will miss my friend. He was never in the game with me, always waiting outside for my arrival. I will miss him like I would miss a finger. It is fair and right and normal that his life must come to an end. Even normal that I should experience the pain and grief. That didn’t make it fun. He was my friend. I am partly who I am because of him. He is part of my experience, part of my memory. He is important. Even if not one other person feels the same anger, pain, and grief, I will. I cannot be me without the memories and experiences of my friend.

I’m sorry if anyone felt the anger of my grief. I am not sorry that I grieve. I must grieve for a part of who I am no longer is. A part of me stopped existing today. Frozen in the vault of memories in my mind. I am better for both the memories and compassion and for the experience of knowing him and losing him. I am alive. His last breath was spent telling me that I am.

I will miss him.

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Stuff You Say When You Are Stoned!

Oh, I know that this could be a long running series but I only intend to make this one post. I think the video says all you need to know when you understand that this is the kind of stuff you say when you’re higher than a kite. We tend to forgive people for stuff they say when they’re high because we know that their brain is not working as it should and the owner of that brain is enjoying the malfunction. If this guy claims he’s not high you can go ahead and laugh at him because he’s clearly stoned out of his mind.

 

Wait a minute, this bag of flatulence is allowed to vote. Seriously, why do believers wonder why non-believers laugh at them and want them locked up?

If you believe in the same book and the same god as this jerk (see what I did there?) could you please explain what is wrong with him? What exactly did he read in your holy book that tells him this stuff?

Why Praying Is Hard

It used to be easy for me when I believed that it did something useful. Then I wondered why an omniscient creator god needed to hear from me to guide his perfect plan. Then I wondered why his perfect plan included so much pain and suffering in the world. Then I learned statistics.

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On any given day there will be a sizable portion of the population of which it can be said “it sucks to be you.” It’s hard to remember that when it’s my day to have a sucky life. These days are the ones that I used to pray about. It never did any good. Sometimes, drinking few fingers of Scotch and playing with my dogs makes it better. Some days there is nothing for it but a few aspirin and more sleep than normal.

In the end, no matter what your philosophical position is, none of us have it all figured out. Some days or weeks just suck, badly.
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When that happens, I try to meditate, relax, remind myself that it will pass because it will pass. I’m not talking about first world problems or fears about imaginary things. I’m talking about real life that grabs me and shakes me and won’t let go till I somehow figure out how to solve the problem. Without a solution at hand it often enough feels like a good scotch and some tearful moments will fix things. Perhaps even an attempt to ignore them will do it. Sadly, nothing like that really works.

Instead of prayer I sit and talk with myself. Amazingly there is a sound thinking part of me willing to have the conversation. I complain and that other part of me tells me it’s just one of those days so buck up sunshine, till you do something nothing will change. It would be nice to have a skydaddy that would fix it all for me but there is none. Even when I pretended there was, it was me that did all the hard work.
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If I can do this anyone can. I’m juggling 153 things at once and I just want to put some of them down. No such luck. I just have to soldier on. Writing this is not helping me do any of them but it is allowing me to have that internal conversation that I need. Do a few more things tonight, wake up, shower, do some more of them. Keep doing that till there is room to breathe or sleep. That is all I have. It’s the only plan I’ve got. The weight on my shoulders will not go away till I shed it myself. Praying would not fix it. In fact, praying would be no more effective than me writing this post.

That’s how this nihilist anti-theist does it.

How do you deal with shitty days?

What Happens When Machines Become Conscious?

Ex Machina

One sentence review: Ava _is_ an anti-theist

Good graphics – check

Good story – check

Good action – not an action flick

Good sex – depends on your definition, does mind fuck count as sex?

Would Nietzsche have enjoyed it? Once he got over the fact that we have 1080i resolution televisions with 4k screens, he’d have loved it.

Should you watch it? Only if you like cerebral stories about consciousness and what it actually means to be a conscious machine (hint: humans are)

Favorite scene: When Ava goes shopping for body parts like any woman browsing through a clothing store after killing her god

What can you expect to see:

  • A visceral demonstration of the law of reciprocity
  • How important empathy is, also see the first item (then think about this one carefully)
  • Why a 15 million acre ranch is a bad idea
  • Why people watching is addictive
  • How to be a bad parent
  • Why you can’t rescue everyone that seems like they need it
  • How to tell a scifi story while avoiding all the technical details

What you won’t see:

  • How religious people will feel about strong AI or consciousness in any species other than humans
  • The answer to created consciousness and fears about the singularity
  • Why robotic FWB is a bad idea
  • How human psychology is the epitome of evolution in consciousness

Do watch it, I totally enjoyed it. I also recommend

 

 

Who Am I?

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I have a particular idea about consciousness and all that this implies. My idea is not really in line with mainstream thought and if it is true, it abrogates much previous thought on consciousness.

THIS is what I’ve been talking about.

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We are machines that can remember and predict future events. The ‘I’ in that situation is nothing more than being able to remember the past, experience the present, and predict the future. It’s a reference point in the machine that keeps us from dying.

Thoughts?

Screaming rants about how stupid this is?

Ideas of where god fits in that situation?

PLEASE comment. The discussion about consciousness is far more important than it is usually taken to be. I believe it is the key to understanding all the problems that we currently face as a species.

 

Thank you

Like What You Want, Want What You Need

That will make sense once you’ve read about the work of Dr Kent Berridge, of the University of Michigan. He has figured out the mechanism in our brains that allows us to desire something that we don’t even know we will like. It’s a very interesting read though a bit long for the Internet attention span. I recommend it if you have 15 minutes or so.

Check it out at Wanting Versus Liking

“Ultimately, it is the desire, not the desired, that we love.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

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  • Have you ever heard someone say they are in love with being in love?
  • Have you ever known anyone that can change from sad to happy like a switch was flipped in their heads?
  • Have you ever known anyone that seemed to be without emotions? They’re always in the middle and can swing a little happy or a little sad?
  • Have you ever wondered what emotions are?

I have not seen easily accessible information before that identifies a mechanism for my thoughts on emotions. If we consider emotions to be a summary status of the chemical balance in our brains (though slightly more complex than that statement seems to make it out) we can get a glimpse of the chemical state of a normal functioning brain by what people reports as their emotional state. Further I opine that we can and do know how to manipulate that chemical state. There are those readers who know very well that it can be manipulated with a bit of help.

There are those that have experienced it but are not quite sure what I’m talking about. Let’s see it in pictures:

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Jesus Camp

What, is that too drastic?

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Beatlemania

Some readers will be well aware of other ways as well as how some of the brain soup chemical interact in odd ways.

So what’s the big deal?

Gradually, he says, a pattern of pleasure-generating areas started to emerge. “Lo and behold, it wasn’t random. All the sites that were doing it were clustered together in various brain regions.” The clusters were about a cubic millimetre in rats (so probably no more than a cubic centimetre in humans), and he called them hedonic hotspots—a series of tiny islands, scattered across a number of brain regions, but all connected to the same circuit. From the evidence so far, it looks as though this same entire circuit is activated for any pleasure, from food and sex to higher-order delights including monetary, musical and altruistic. The same gloss applied to very different events. — Dr Kent Berridge

Oh snap! So it’s possible that because of indoctrination we might be able to activate the pleasure (like) zones in our brains by doing the things we are comfortable with, acquainted with. Going to church can make you feel good or being with an abusive partner can make you feel good. There is no logic to it, it’s chemical soup. We can train our brains to alter the soup so that we don’t trigger the like/pleasure response so easily under given circumstances but when something becomes an addiction that is very difficult

I will further opine that some people are capable of managing the chemical soup so that status is always about the same. To many that would make them look emotionless yet to themselves it means avoiding the highs and lows of letting that chemical soup boil out of control. Some of this might make sense to you as you read it and I would appreciate your thoughts in the comments.

I am excited that we are finding the mechanisms which can explain emotions and what they really are. That way lies sanity. Like what you want, want what you need. In this we can be ‘happy’ without all the drama, or so it seems to me.

Fear, Confidence, and Sin … Part 2

I have added a video below, with some context after thinking and rereading this post as a result of a comment.

 

 

No, that is not a title for a crazy Venn diagram like this one. I’m writing this post as a reply to one from a blogging friend, preacher on the web. We’ve been talking for a while and I decided that his lessons should have a MAL counter point. Not the usual ‘he got it all wrong’ counter point, instead I want to offer up the ‘how MAL the anti-theist and nihilist does it’ counter point posts. He’s a nice guy and we’ve had some good conversations. I like him, so it is that I feel both obligated and needful of offering the positive nihilist counter point to his lessons or at least a few of them.

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Now, having found this I am feeling obligated to find a source to buy this one in the middle

Before we get going, let’s stop by Wikipedia

Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Fear may occur in response to a specific stimulus happening in the present, or to a future situation, which is perceived as risk to health or life, status, power, security, or, in the case of humans, wealth or anything held valuable. The fear response arises from the perception of danger leading to confrontation with or escape from/avoiding the threat (also known as the fight-or-flight response), which in extreme cases of fear (horror and terror) can be a freeze response or paralysis.

In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning. Thus fear is judged as rational or appropriate and irrational or inappropriate. An irrational fear is called a phobia.

Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. Arrogance or hubris in this comparison is having unmerited confidence—believing something or someone is capable or correct when they are not. Overconfidence or presumptuousness is excessive belief in someone (or something) succeeding, without any regard for failure. Confidence can be a self-fulfilling prophecy as those without it may fail or not try because they lack it and those with it may succeed because they have it rather than because of an innate ability.

Preacher stars out defining the context of the confidence he is talking about. I’m going to  paraphrase to try a point-counterpoint format. Feel free to use the link above to read the whole post with scripture references intact. I’m not trying to change the meaning of his lesson. Rat me out if I manage to do so. I added some highlights to focus the ‘point’ being made. This post will be long enough as it is.

POINT

CHRIST GIVES US CONFIDENCE

The prophet Ezekiel tells us today that each person will be judged according to his own works … lives in sin, he will die for his sins. Therefore turn from your evil way, and you will live.

[…] God has sent us a Savior, Jesus Christ. […] so that we might really feel forgiven. In this way the peace of Christ fills us and illuminates us from within, rejoicing our heart so that we no longer have any doubt that we have been completely forgiven and can now live in confidence and without fear of the judgment of God.

[…] Christ assures us that it is his merits, not ours, that satisfy divine justice, propitiate God, and avert his wrath against us for our sin. Therefore if we believe in him, we no longer need to live in fear of God’s judgment against us.

Then we must live well, according to God’s will, to grow further in holiness. And we must avoid all evil in order not to anger God against us again and so lose his love and light in our heart.
But if we sin, we can repent anew, confess our sin, and again invoke the merits of Christ’s death to make reparation for our sin and so again propitiate God in our favor.
With Christ we can overcome our fear of God, and rather live in the security of his salvation. If we are in Christ and have confessed our sins, we will live, and we can have confidence in his salvation.

COUNTER POINT

Preacher is talking about the god giving us confidence, yet it is that same god who gives people fear that causes them need of the confidence preacher is talking about. He’s talking about fear of damnation and the god’s wrath. It would be easy to simply say that I don’t believe in a god so have no fear of a god’s wrath. I used to have that fear and now I don’t. Getting rid of religion does not make you free of fear. Never mind the next life, this one has a lot of things which cause us humans to be afraid. Even believers have to deal with these fears. As religious folk say, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. We all have to buy food and pay for a home among many other things. Fear drives most of what we do in this life. It has been said that if the food was delivered free and housing was free most Americans might never leave the house except during commercial breaks on television. That situation rids us of most of the big fears: food, housing, entertainment. Without fear we are often not motivated to excel in life and that is something that I question about heaven as it is described, but that is for another post.

Fear

Humans need fear. It drives us to act yet it is also quite bad for us. When we get a fear signal into the brain our brains start shutting things down which are not necessary at this exact moment to get rid of the fear signal. Biologically we are evolved to dedicate 100% of our resources to the task of getting rid of the fear. If the fear signal is not a full blown fear, our brains might not dedicate all our resources to it, just some. It’s a graduated reaction for many things but for many people they have either no reaction or full blown 100% of the resources kind of action. It depends on the person and the type of fear. In any case, one of the things that usually happens is the brain shuts down parts it doesn’t need for the fight/flight reaction to fears. That includes the pre-frontal cortex, the part we do all our long range planning with, the part we do most of our reasoning with. It’s a delicate dance to deal with fear. The fear that preacher is talking about can never be removed or ‘exorcised’, it lasts for a lifetime or as long as you are a believer.

Sin is that tool that the god uses to chip away at any confidence you have, to make sure that you never quite get rid of that abject fear of eternal torment. It’s the tool that ensures the believer lives their life in fear. (That is definitely not good for you) A fear that only the god can give you relief from. Some might recognize that form of relationship.

That said, how do I deal with fear since I can’t kneel down and pray for help?

Many of our fears today don’t require fight/flight response, rather they require a meditated and composed reaction. That requires that we use the parts of our brains that shut down during fear response. Yes, we’re our own worst enemies most of the time. When I find myself in one of those situations where I am confused and in fear, not sure what to do, I have found that I’m most successful when I do the following:

  • Calm myself down. Meditate a bit if I can or simply sit and be calm in calm surroundings. Prepare myself to think the problem through.
  • Take a measure of the problem. What is it, how far does it reach, how much damage can it do… that sounds odd, but perception is very important. Look at the problem several ways, it too has weaknesses that we don’t usually see at first. Over time I’ve (l)earned the confidence to know I can do this.
  • Make a list of the thing that might mitigate the problem, slow it’s effects, or delay the effects
  • Make a list of possible things which might happen in the near future which I can take advantage of to fight/defeat this fear
  • Organize the list of things I can do, flagging them by time. What can I do right now? tonight? in the morning? I write that list down if needed so it is not forgotten and so I can adjust it as needed. This list becomes my ‘plan’. Sometimes there is nothing I can do immediately but remember to stay calm and all the things I can do are only little ones.
  • I work that plan around in my head to see if there is anything else I can add to make it better or things which ‘might’ happen soon which would allow me to change it to plan ‘B’
  • I used to think I could hear gods voice in my head but now I know it’s only me talking to myself. So I talk the plan over with myself, one of us looking for weak spots, the other telling us that we can make the plan work and what we have to do to make it work. The discussion usually includes preparation for the emotional and physical blows which are likely to come. Then I practice how I will react to those if they should happen so that I’m not completely unprepared for them.
  • The conversation usually includes a worst case scenario analysis as well. This is the part where the believer might say they ‘get right with god’ but it’s when I get brutally honest. What did I do to cause this and what is going to happen if I can’t fix it. In that honesty I prepare myself for that possibility, how I will react, etc.

All of that gives me a plan or three, an honest assessment of what is happening and what will happen. I now have the confidence to move forward, face that fear/problem head on… by myself. I may not know what the future holds but I’ve got the best information that I can get about this problem and the best plan I can afford to combat it. I can and do confidently move forward no matter how bleak it looks. Plan B often works out because that unknown future often enough gives me a new perspective or tool or resource and with my plan and confidence I’m able to take advantage of it when it comes along.

Some of the problems that I’ve faced this way:  Death, extended unemployment, financial issues, relationship issues, work issues, not enough money this month for groceries and many more.

This doesn’t make me fearless, just confident that I can come out on top, that it’s possible and if I’m prepared I can make it happen. Yes, sometimes the plan doesn’t work and the worst case scenario comes true. Funny, as bad as it seemed at the time, looking back I can’t remember why I was so afraid. The worst happened and I’m still here, still enjoying every experience of life. There were times that I couldn’t find a plan or even come up with my lists. My inner voice just simply says “Buckle up MAL, it’s going to be a rough ride, there’s no plan and no turning back” so my plan is do nothing and I carry on anyway with a hope that a new twist will happen and plan B will materialize. Confidence for me is not being certain of the world, it’s being certain of myself. No god can give that to you. You have to build your own confidence from the blood, sweat, and tears of all the times you pushed forward without a plan.

The best part, for me, is that when I come out the other side it’s not that I’m triumphant but that I get to mentally pat myself on the back for a job well done. I get to be proud of myself for surviving or avoiding yet another scrape or crash in life. Knowing that I did it gives me that much more confidence next time for the next problem or fear. That little bit of back patting actually helps repel future fears.

My search for truth helped me form this method. I searched for truth knowing the worst case was eternity in hell and with a hope that the truth would set me free. I’m not exactly free, but I’m informed and I  have a plan. I’m honest with myself about it. Sometimes those conversations I have with myself end up with me having to learn something about biology or chemistry or some other science field so that I have the understanding and knowledge I need to take advantage of any new twists. This is how I came to be so deeply interested in how we think and what consciousness is.

Failure is always an option. No is always a valid answer. The trick is to be calm, have a plan, practice how to react and be patient and ready for when a twist comes along so you can take advantage of it.

The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet. — Damon Runyon

My planning, self honesty, and practice are exactly to help me be swift and or strong when that moment comes to change the outcome to a better one. That honesty is about not breaking my own rules as well. That is how this nihilist faces adversity and fear with confidence.

The idea that we have control, whether we really do or not, gives us confidence. That confidence can mean the difference between life and death yet it is the contemplation, the use of our ability to reason and plan which gives us that confidence that fear robs us of. We may have more to fear than fear itself but it is wise to remember that fear is the feeling of losing or having lost. That sounds harsh but giving into fear is to abandon all the resources we have that will help us win.

I’m neither a doctor or therapist. None of this is medical advice. It’s worth exactly what you paid for it.

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