Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why I do not support birth



I'm going to refrain from ascribing myself as an antinatalist, as it has recently been pointed out elsewhere that those commonly seen as antinatalists are, in fact, only seen as antinatalistic through a historic revisionary perspective, and that this term is sometimes mis-applied. Antinatalism has never been a term that I liked, particularly because it conjures up ideas of a political upheaval of the system. Or at least that's what you hear those in the comment sections of YouTube videos or forums fantasizing about - the state-sanctioned impermissibility of birth, a radical revolution of society, the pressing of the Red Button™ and destroying the world (efilism).

The unifying feature of all of these ideas is this: an unwarranted optimism based upon extreme pessimism. I'll grant the extreme pessimism. But if you're going to be an extreme pessimist, then it doesn't make any sense to think that things are going to get any better in the future. Particularly if you're a misanthrope (which many are), you'll lack any real faith in the future decisions of humanity.

So if you define antinatalism as the negative evaluation of birth, then I guess I would be an antinatalist. Just don't expect me to show up to any rallies or paint my face or anything like that.

Why am I against birth? There are a couple reasons, but the most powerful reason in my arsenal, one that I believe underlies every other argument against birth (whether they be good arguments or not), one that I believe is self-evident to anyone who honestly analyzes life, is this:

Life generally sucks.

Why does life generally suck?

It sucks because it's Painful, Tedious, Scary, and Depressing. aka P.T.S.D. I pride myself in this acronym.

Pain:

The first tenet of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism is just this: Life is suffering. To suffer entails a certain amount of pain, the experience of discomfort and dis-satisfaction.

If you don't eat, you will have a myriad of sensations from a feeling of hunger culminating in starvation. If you don't drink water, you will begin to feel lacking, until you die with your tongue lolling out of your mouth. If you don't shit, you'll eventually do so anyway in your pants.

But in order to eat, you have to work. Working entails the burning of energy - the same energy consumed when you eat and drink, and the same kind of energy you are working for. So, fundamentally, working is just another safeguard against starvation and eventual death.

Let's not limit ourselves to to aches and pains of everyday life, though. What about that migraine you had last night? What about the two-week diarrhea episode? What about that time you broke your arm? What about the future pains? What if you get a horrible disease? What if you get into a car accident? What if a shark, despite the low probability, bites off your leg? What if...the last experience you have is of extreme, utter, unrelenting pain?

There is clearly an asymmetry in "pleasurable" states and painful states. Pleasurable states are transitory, usually disappointing, and never satisfying. Painful states are easy to come by, usually long-lasting, and tend to result in a long recovery period relative to their intensity.

Maybe you're in a condition that the pleasures you experience do outweigh the little pains of life. Lucky you. This does not change the fact that pain is a necessary component of sentient existence, whereas pleasure is a mere contingent, a motivating scheme to allow creative innovations.

 It stands, then, that there is a problem in the very structure of sentient existence. And so any good-ness, any pleasure, exists within the ever-present context and constraint of pain.

And let's not forget the savagery going on right outside your door, in the untamed wild. And let's also not forget that society's very existence is meant to protect us from this brutality. But the best way to protect someone is to not put them in a situation that requires them to be protected in the first place.

Underneath all pleasure (and even pain), is a ceaseless, insidious, rumbling urge to move. The Will.

Tediousness:

In addition to being painful, life is tedious. When something is tedious, it is boring, long-lived, usually repetitive, and slow-moving. Like trying to learn how to spell "repetative repetitive" corre- GODDAMMIT I SPELLED IT WRONG AGAIN, FUCK!

Life is a chore. You get up, shit, eat, shower, go to work, eat, come home, watch what traumatic happenings are occurring on the planet on your television, eat, shit, go to sleep, and repeat again and again and again and again and again. You're social outings and vacations are distractions from the daily grind. They act as a way of keeping you from going insane.

All of the accidents, all of the contingencies, have to be dealt with somehow, and this means someone has to deal with it.

Fear:

Life is scary. When you are born, you are thrown into a world already pre-conceived. You are expected to learn how to survive in the toxic world surrounding you. Support groups exist to fundamentally help you not-die. Nothing is guaranteed, which is both a relief and a source of extreme anxiety. What if I get impaled tomorrow? What if I get fired from my job? What if North Korea launches their nukes? What if my house burns down? What if I go to Hell after I die? What if an environmental catastrophe happens and I'm forced to live on beans and rice for five years?

Life is filled with possibilities, and the overwhelming amount of possibilities are negative. You're lucky if you aren't tripping over yourself on the stage of fate, a puppet to the whims of an external force. Life can be is traumatic.

We like to play pretend and convince ourselves that everything is alright, even great!. We go to church, pray to a non-existent hero archetype, put our confidence in devious politicians and snake-oil salesmen, submerge ourselves in the collective insanity of pop-culture and shopping, and unjustifiably-predict bright and happy futures for us and our spouse, whom we'll have three kids with, as well as buy a dog from a breeder, and whom we'll live in a house with a white picket fence, a style of house similar to that which our children will also live with their spouse, children, and dog when they grow up and assimilate mature into successful businesspersons with a 6-figure salary and a perfect retirement program.

Maturation is synonymous to the hiding of one's scars and the acceptance that one is a finite, limited, and overall weak entity in a world of great power.

Depression:

Depression is the rational response to an objective and honest reflection upon life. Mild to moderate depression, a more intellectual-motivated apathy, characterizes the negative person. Melancholy. The negative person appreciates the good while recognizing the contingency and fleeting nature of it, as well as the context in which it exists.

A deep sense of ennui is present in anyone who is actively conscious without any stimulation for an extended period of time. Like Zapffe said, the universe is unable to accommodate the human psyche. There will always be a sense of dread and emptiness. That which catches the attention of the mind is either harmful or a cute novelty.

Fundamentally reality follows the rules of Scarcity and Fatigue. Resources are Scarce, and are used up, leading to a Fatigue in the system. It's a cosmic rule.

All of our structures, civilizations, aesthetics, dramas, relationships, and the like will eventually be destroyed. It in inevitable. Entropy will win whether we like it or not.

Reality is ultimately and unavoidably boring. There is nothing particularly special about existence, nothing worth noting, nothing inherently valuable in itself (positive and negative value). All value is a subjective appropriation necessary for survival. Creativity is the need to create something interesting from a world of utter flat-ness. We live in a world that stretches beyond our backyards, but has the depth of a puddle.

So life is P.T.S.D. - Painful, Tedious, Scary, and Boring, and this is why life sucks. And we do not generally feel the need, nor the permission, to impose a sucky thing on another person unless we either have their consent, or because it's in their best interests. We lack both in regards to birth, and this is why I do not support birth.

You may like to consider alternative methods of coming to the conclusion that birth is not to be condoned. Perhaps you like your analytic asymmetry heuristics. Perhaps you like your misanthropic arguments. Perhaps you like other arguments not mentioned. But beneath all of these arguments lies the fundamental one: that life sucks, which can be shown by either looking at the premises of these other arguments or deconstructing them to show how they are either invalid or depend upon the general suckiness of life.

If you are a rational human being, then you won't conceive children, and that is my position. Call it whatever the fuck you want.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this blog entry.

    I have a suspicion that society, in its heart of hearts, despises depressed people because it knows they have a point: the recognition that life is finite and sad and frightening – as well as those more sanctioned outlooks, joyful and exciting and complex and satisfying. There is a secret feeling most people enjoy that everything, at a fundamental level, is basically OK. Depressives suffer the withdrawal of that feeling, and it is frightening not only to experience but to witness.

    Admittedly, severely depressed people can connect only tenuously with reality, but repeated studies have shown that mild to moderate depressives have a more realistic take on life than most “normal” people, a phenomenon known as “depressive realism”. As Neel Burton, author of The Meaning of Madness, put it, this is “the healthy suspicion that modern life has no meaning and that modern society is absurd and alienating”. In a goal-driven, work-oriented culture, this is deeply threatening.

    This viewpoint can have a paralysing grip on depressives, sometimes to a psychotic extent – but perhaps it haunts everyone. And therefore the bulk of the unafflicted population may never really understand depression. Not only because they (understandably) lack the imagination, and (unforgivably) fail to trust in the experience of the sufferer – but because, when push comes to shove, they don’t want to understand. It’s just too..... well, depressing.

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  2. Yes, Life is pretty bad. Full of sadness, loneliness and misery. Not mine in particular, but Life in general.

    Lately I have been hearing a bit too often how great Life is and how we should all enjoy it to the fullest, how happiness is a choice and we need to learn to appreciate what we have… I doubt anyone truly believes that. I think that somewhere deep inside most people know that Life sucks. But for some reason they prefer not to admit it. They ignore the obvious facts, act like everything is fine and pretend that they love it. I don’t love it. I’ve tried but I can’t. For a number of reasons.

    Here is another reason Life sucks:

    Life is too short.

    Too short compared to what? Time is relevant, right? An hour stuck in the traffic seems like an eternity. A week on a vacation is over in a flash. It is all about interpretation.

    What I mean is that life is too short for us to do everything we want to do. And we do want a lot, don’t we? It’s the way humans are. We are curious. We have a strong need to know, to learn, to discover. To improve ourselves more and more. This is what motivates us to live. And at the same time that’s exactly what leaves us frustrated. We never want to stop, but eventually we are forced to.

    When you were a kid, what did you want to become when you grow up? Let me guess — A LOT of things. Most kids don’t limit themselves to just one thing. They wish big! They want to be something like a super-smart mad scientist-engineer, who is also a master in martial arts, a rock-star, draws magnificently, has a deep understanding of psychology, has traveled the whole world, knows how to fly a plane and owns a candy factory. All at once. Kids wish big, because they haven’t yet realized that life is just too short. As we grow up, we give up our dreams one by one. Not because we don’t want to know kung-fu anymore, but because we realize that we’d need to dedicate an awful lot of our time in order to learn it. And that will be at the expense of something else. Our time is limited. So at some point we keep to ourselves just one or two dreams. The worst part is that often they are not the ones we desire most, but rather the ones which seem most achievable.

    Personally, I think that’s sad. And when all of those “positive” and “inspirational” people on the internet tell me to go and follow my dreams, I want to ask them “Which ones?” That is what bothers me! Which one of my dreams I have to follow? Or better yet, which one of my dreams I have to give up?

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