Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hell - a place where puppets are trying to find other puppets to play in their puppetry, all this and more on the inside of Paradise...

Whenever I open my eyes I see a beautiful world outside. Perhaps is just the place where I live, it has a wonderful view of the Cosmos. A few centuries ago and Galaxies would be unimaginable for the western mind. Now when I think of my body I know there's trillions of cells and stuff in it, all vibrating, living, meticulously articulated to create a moving body. Stars and mitochondria, feces, molecules, rivers, fur, eyes, brains, satellites, stars and black holes, this is certainly a very vast world where the homo sapiens has but a little role, almost invisible in the large spacio-temporal scale of the universe.

But sometimes I need to sleep. I need to close my eyes and just relax. Just absorb, pausing from all the travel into the beautifulness all around. There are two ways to stop: the first is the easy one, just enjoy being, stop, absorb, close your eyes, just be, let ecstasy flow in... enjoy ... stop ...

This is the first method, the second method usually happens to me when I'm feeling guilty, with all these things to do, and time, such a master, leaving us so little time to do them... and so I go on, with no inspiration, no nothing, just going on, insisting, banging my head against the wall... (kind of The Shining kind of thing). And then light slowly becomes this piercing hurting thing... I can stand it no more, beauty becomes hurtful, like a grin face despising your suffering... and so I look for some place that looks devilish... the problem with my finding such a place is that I already digested and integrated must evils of the world. Snakes and spiders just keep natures equilibrium, they allow for change and novelty, life continues. The same with lions and deers, death is just a door to life. Feces of a cow are certainly than gold, at the cosmological scale, so we should be proud of them. Disease is also a door into the new, a price we pay for such wonderfully crafted bodies, with billions of billions of pieces. From intruders to ADN failure, everything can happen... so, in such a marvelous world, where can I hide from the beauty and the mystery?

The answer is simple: in the place inhabited by those who love hate. Why? Because, apart from the things that are imposed on us, we are close to what we know and love, we might know something but if we disdain it, it does not stay in our mind, heart, etc. So the less we love the smaller the universe that is present to us in our heart. If we love hate then all that remains is us, the ego, the hating I, a machine of destruction. Everything else is reduced to shambles. A world like that is what is usually called a demon world, a world empty of everything but destruction, where only ugliness exists and feeds the spirit. It reminds me of the one dimension world described by Abbott in his Flatland, a vision so small that only the I remains, alone, separated from everything else. (The Lord of the Rings also has some accurate descriptions of this demon world.)

So when I experience this world where people love hate I finally have my eyes closed, a pause from all the beautifulness that surrounds us, instead I became entertained by thoughts of terror and destruction and "how can there be people like this, who actually like to think about this". But hey! I'm thinking about it, so... Happily for lovers of freedom there are such societies as ours in which laws forbid acts of destruction, slavery, torture (even towards prisoners of war) and other such acts that were frequent and sometimes the hallmark of many ancient civilizations. Mankind, although it represents itself as the culmination of rationality, was many if not most of the times, guided by despise, hatred and the gut feeling of feeling superior. There's a music by Regina Spektor which highlights a bit of this want of destruction: I've commented it on SongMeanings, so here it goes (music and commentary)

Regina Spektor - Belt

I know I say I'll go away
but then I don't, I come right back
and walk right smack into your lips and turn all black and blue
and though I've seen the light so many times before
I've also figured out the light is just a switch
that I can turn on, I can turn off
please, oh please
when it's off, you cannot see, you cannot hear
even in your ear, saying

yo girl, don't make me take off my belt
don't make me take off my belt and smack you upside the head
yo girl, don't make me take off my belt
don't make me take off my belt and smack you right side up

upside down a frown becomes a smile
and so he thinks I take it with a smile
double upside down a frown remains a frown
too bad he never checks the double upside down
when I'm doubled up on the floor and I see a double him
giving me a double wham bam

yo girl, don't make me take off my belt
don't make me take off my belt and smack you upside the head
yo girl, don't make me take off my belt
don't make me take off my belt(x2)

chicken soup, mashed potatoes, gravy, orange juice, milk shakes, pudding,
oatmeal, soft served ice cream
ain't it good that there's soft food cause I couldn't eat very much else right now
they ask me how well, haha, I bumped into a door
yeah, haha, I fell down some stairs
oh, I'm such a clutz
I say that very same thing to myself all the time
I say yo girl, can't you watch where you are?
you don't watch where the hell you're going, you're going to get yourself killed
you know, hey girl, can't you watch where you are?
you're going to get yourself killed(x2)
you're going to get yourself

I know I say I'll go away
but then I don't, I come right back
and walk right smack into your lips and turn all black and blue
and though I've seen the light so many times before
I've also figured out the light is just a switch
that I can turn on, I can turn off
please, oh please
when it's off, you cannot see shit, you cannot hear shit
even in your ear, saying
yo girl, don't make me take off my belt
don't make me take off my belt and smack you upside the head
yo girl, don't make me take off my belt
don't make me take off my belt(x2)

[comment] Upside down: sometimes we're happy someone is suffering, in the distance that separate us from her we appear in a better light. Poorer countries, dictatorial regimes, poor people on the street, prisoners in jails, mandmen in madhouses, all the lost and injured, the ones who got lost from civilization, all these people help us feel more comfortable, happier, in our lifestyle. In a world where everyone would be better off than we are, we would feel miserable, the worst of the world. But a King in the XVII century might not have plumbing, computers, vaccines, running water, tv... but a King is always a King because everyone else is worse.

Upside down, yes, I'm the king and you're the creepy who comes back for more. I'll be bigger by comparison, bigger the smaller you are. Look how gigantic.

"too bad he never checks the double upside down"

That's called compassion, a freak who wants to be big, but has compassion will want to be big by helping others instead of stepping on them. His self-regard will grow by identification instead of comparison.

"I say yo girl, can't you watch where you are?"

Wow! can't you watch where you are?

Where's the switch for the light?

You know? I feel a bit like this girl, I don't really know where I am, I mean, I know it's inside a galaxy, somewhere, but where's the galaxy any way, where are time and space tuck away? In some God's imagination? I don't really know, but I can't say I don't care.

Freaky? Perhaps it is better not even to think about, perhaps darkness is better, switching off the light, and it will then seem so simple, so "out of mystery", no questions asked...

just those lips, smacking against mine, once again and again... until they turn blue, until I really can't see anything really...

and all is so simple,

simple, simple, simple...

I can't see shit really...
This desire for nothingness, is it so bad? As I said lovers of freedom are lucky to live in an open society where cruelty is, at least officially and regarding humans, seen as something to be banned. But is the desire to punish and hurt really bad in itself or just the consequences of such a desire? Imagine for the argument's sake, that in a future society a new attempt to cure these horrid individuals would be to put them in a simulator, directly connected to their brains, in which they would feel, live and act in a simulated world, apparently so real that no difference could be noticed. In that world simulated victims - that could range from whole enslaved civilizations, prisoners of a single dictator, to a single slave - would be offered to the tortured minds of the sadists. Now, these persons would not in fact be hurting any one beyond themselves. All the tortures, humiliations, all the suffering would have only one spectator: themselves. All the rest was just bits and bytes running impassible on computer hardware. No one had to know what happened there, except the sadist.

Now, we can imagine that he didn't even know that he was in a simulation. We might also imagine that the machine would only let him out of the simulation after he was put to the test and unknowingly revealed himself by his actions to be completely cured of his sick desires and afflictions. It could take many years, even decades, but could a person get completely tired of torturing and possessing by having too much of it, like one gets tired of chocolate by eating too much of it? Or does one get more and more addicted, while the chances for "cure" get further and further away?

Regarding chemical drugs we find mostly, but not always, that addiction increases with consumption. But with other addictive behaviors like sex, sports, dancing, doing the yo-yo and stuff, it seems more likely that the more we fully live the experience, the more it becomes just another part of our life. Impossible loves may remain obsessions for a life-time, but marriage soon wears out all obsessions replacing them with the crude reality that the daily life brings. (Is your lover really a good lover, are you really a good lover? Day-to-day life will certainly tell.)

Since sadomasochist acts are so extreme, and they have such a powerful influence even at the biochemical level, it is hard to say if a person could be freed of such obsessions by immersing himself / herself in this experience, in this simulated world of torture where he/she could play all the desired roles. (The machine would have to maintain some consistency to give "reality" to the simulation. So changing roles could be difficult sometimes for the sake of consistency.) In any case we might imagine the simulator to be applied to sadists anyway, for instance as a "last chance" treatment, or to respect a choice of the sadist that might enjoy the prospect of living the rest of his days in his own "paradise"; or, because we, normal people, should rightly call such a place "hell", perhaps we would imagine it as the ultimate punishment: giving the sadist the opportunity to live the rest of his days thinking about horror, death and suffering, his mind filled with the screams he himself inflicted on his seemingly real victims. In other words, he would be thinking he was getting a reward, but, in our eyes, it would be an awful punishment, to live in such a world of screams and pain, even if we were to be the grandest master of it.

So, either as a punishment, a treatment, or just to get rid of that nasty person for a few years at least, we might concede them the simulator and the simulated life, for as long as they want it, for as long as it takes for them to be cured, to be "over it".

Now all this was meant to ask a question, when these people were inside the simulator, doing these incredible horrible things, were they really being mean and cruel, or just... you know..., experimenting, exploring their inner worlds, doing some sort of catharsis?

My asking this has to do with the evilness of the act itself: obviously any act that invades the freedom of another being is wrong, at least from the perspective of the being that is being invaded (a free horse running in the wild, how can he forgive his master, unless he is utterly transformed?). We usually don't care much about primates, mammals, birds and all the others we enslave, use for medical experiments, sell, buy and butcher as if they were made of plastic. These certainly horrific acts for the creatures that suffer them, are seen by us as natural, but we have realized that it is wrong to do them if the animal we do it to is a homo sapiens, even if it isn't even born yet, or, due to his age, has lost practically all his rationality. I might be 90 years old, and dumber than a pig, a dog, a horse, but I have rights to medication, sleep, food, rest: they have the right to be our property, if I own a pig no one can kill it, except me.

So our acts that limit the freedom of other beings and inflict them pain, either we are conscious or not of their evilness, are in fact evil, at least in the eyes of the beings that we kill, emprision in stables and chicken farms, modify through hormones, artificial light, etc. But if we did those things, either to animals or to human beings, in a simulated world, would it be bad in a moral sense?

Let me give you a particular example (the following is a text attributed to an author reportedly named Towaco Takamura and a larger sample of his text can easily be found in a google search)
««‘You … Sir … Sir … expects me to serve … how you … how my Master … likes it…’ She offered with far too much respect for her to really mean it.

‘That was before, darling,’ I answered. ‘Now and first of all I want obedience. You will do everything I say. What it is, isn’t important. I will accept no excuses from the most blind and instant obedience. Rule number two is respect. My superiority to you as a person is evident and so you will only speak to me when I ask you and when I invite you to reply, and you will do it in the third person and always using my correct title: Sir. The rest of the time you will bark like the bitch you are. One bark means yes and two means no. You need no more to serve me. The third commandment is loyalty: you will never try to escape or hurt me or betray the confidence I may have shown in you. And last, but certainly not least, the fourth commandment is about surrender. You will do all I ask and you will enjoy it, you will do it pleasingly, complacently. I will not accept half measures, most of all when your master decides to cum, do you understand?’
Marianne barked. I wasn’t expecting it and I must admit that I liked it. I told you before that I used to call her ‘clever clogs’.

‘Let’s try it.’

I showed her the needle again.

‘Do you know what this is?’


I gave her a loud slap.

‘Don’t you know how to talk like a person, stupid?’

She swallowed…

‘Yes … Sir…’ She replied her cheeks aflame.

‘That’s better. And now I’m going to repeat the question … Do you know what this is?’

‘A nail, Sir.’

It surprised me that she called it a nail, in fact it was big and very thick.

‘You’re a clever little puppy…’ I congratulated her, ‘and as a prize you’ll ask your master to stick in your nipple. Don’t you think that’s great? It will be irrefutable proof of your obedience … Pain through discipline. Control of your own emotions…’

Marianne started to cry disconsolately. I love it when she cries, it’s … How can I put it? So womanly … So feminine…»»
Now this text is certainly the horrid creation of a mind dominated by pain, desiring slavery, blind to the inner beauty and sacredness of what is before him. Unprepared to deal with freedom and enormous beauty he chooses to destroy it and chain its vehicle, depriving it of expression. It is even more obvious that a person, who would actually do something even remotely similat to this, can have no place in a free and open society, for the basic tenet of such a society is that our freedom ends when another's freedom begins. We cannot be tolerant with intolerance, we cannot be kind to those who are cruel. Free and open societies can only be composed of people are willing to respect other people's freedom. Those who disrespect the basic freedoms cannot be tolerated. This is basically how our society works, by putting away, in prisons, etc, those who do not respect ways of life, properties, the space that everyone has to have to live their life in freedom. Because they don't respect that space then the offender's space is restricted in a way as not to interfere with anyone else.

The above text goes a long way in disrespecting everything we hold sacred in our civilization, body integrity, freedom of movements, individual choice, freedom of thought, etc. It is also the reversal of everything we hold in high esteem, like compassion, understanding, altruism, etc. It does this to describe what it would be like to achieve complete control and acceptance in another. Now, this is just a story, a person that writes these stories might not do a single harmful act, even in a simulator, even if he knew it was a simulator. Playing with the idea of making a robbery, going to the moon or sailing around the world does not mean one would search for these things, even in a simulated world. When one thinks about a robbery or writes a story about it, one might be comfortably tucked in a cozy sofa, listening to beautiful music, in the quietness and protective environment of his own home. He can stop whenever he wants, he can explore just a part of the story, just an aspect. He has total control on what he imagines. But in a simulator things could be quite different, other aspects would constantly show up, people, circumstances, events, not planned, fortuitous. Would this enhance our interest or cast it away? Well, that depends on our interest. If we just want to experience the feeling of having lots of money on our hands, all the rest of the context might be a distraction, but if we wanted to know what it is like to steal a bank, then we might even search for all the extras that the simulator may bring.

Another consideration is, as I said above, that most of us actually respect other people, even if we would like to have their money we will not take it away, and not just because of the consequences but because we respect the person who has it, her path and beauty.

So, to really understand the role of "Hell" (the desire of suffering - of others or oneself, does not matter) we need to distinguish it from other more general considerations that are at the base of our social life. It is not simply a question of disrespecting another's rights because we want something. This disrespect can happen for many reasons (money, status, etc). What characterizes Hell is that the one that experiences it desires for "slavery". He does not need to actually hurt anyone, he does not even need a simulator, or even to write a book, or short story, or a poem... all he needs is to desire slavery, that is Hell.

So the talk about simulators and books and all, was just to distinguish the immediate impulse that leads us to criminalize all sorts of actions that interfere with the freedom of persons in our free and open society (designed for humans only - kings and wannabe controllers of everything else). Because this kind of attitude applies to all sorts of acts, from money extortion, to stalking or political persecution. But to live in Hell is a very different kind of thing, and we should analyze it for what it is.

Notice that someone desiring slavery, either living in a simulated world, or in his imagination, or simply unconscious desires, is condemned to the worst of chastisements: to be eternally away from what he desires. There are many levels in which this is true: the most obvious is that he destroys the person he tries to conquer, the more he conquers the less the person exists, the less value his control over her will have. A truly controlled person is nothing more than a puppet, a toy, it is not a "one" it is merely a thing. Her allegiance has no value at all, it doesn't say anything about us. It does not show in the least love, admiration, or even true acceptance or even recognition. She his reduced to an object, a machine. Like a car or a sewing machine. It would obey anything and anyone, once it is properly trained. So, what attracts the sadist in the first place: the fact that she is free and can choose and feel and think, is what is destroyed when control is achieved.

In a deeper level, the sadist, while a sadist, has no control over himself. He is not free but overwhelmed by his horrid desires. His obsessions make him a puppet, and he is like a puppet trying to transform others into puppets too. His gaining control over persons, sexual slaves, or entire populations (because dictators and those who have lust for power are these kinds of puppets too) will bring him nothing of value. He remains alone, fearful, a puppet in a puppet world, where all that is beautiful is removed from view.

By wanting to "control" the "other" he looses the chance of "being the other", he is condemned to live away from what he desires. Desiring slavery means also not seeing the sacredness of freedom in general. His own freedom succumbs to his impossible desires, that is truly hell.

We could expose many other levels, that express all kinds of insatisfactions at the emotional, sexual and personality level, and others. But the fact is, we have no control over the world, we don't even know what the world is (about). So this search for power and control is, at all levels, destined to failure.

If we want the world, we have to live the mystery, communicate with the mystery, try and be closer to existence in every way we can... But the desire to control is the desire of a puppet trying to live in a puppet world.

However, in the case of a puppet, this desire is also the desire for existence itself. Since a puppet cannot recognize himself simply by being free, (he is not his own) he cannot recognize himself, feel himself, unless he sees his mark on the world, on another. Seeing his actions reflected not only physically but emotionally, in the senses, in the mind, etc, only now does the puppet knows he is there, he exists, at least to the person with which he can interfere. It would be a cruel joke indeed if such a simulator came to exist and was used for the purposes we described above, for, in that case, the sadist would live all those things all to himself. No one would see him, or recognize him, no one would give him the reality he needs. In a simulated world the puppet would more easily see that no one can give him reality except himself.

How to save a puppet? Talk to the hand!


In sum: By trying to control we cast away our freedom, the only true bridge between us and infinity... The bridge that gives us ecstasy connects us all... in visions of sacredness, infinite beauty, and freedom.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

1408 (film) - the intention is certainly real

This movie has an implausible story, however it is somewhat familiar. Here we have a man with all the comforts of daily life, as if living for comfort, but somewhere buried in his mind is a small room where all the doubts, fears, anguishes, traumas, are well hidden away. He searches for haunted houses, ghosts, for they are not only the door to hell but also a signal of life after death. After all, he lost his daughter.

Well, all his searching for the supernatural goes awry, but suddenly he gets into this room, where repressed memories come alive. At first he does not want to hear them, but slowly he cames to face them, and he ends up holding his child in his arms, giving her the last hug he could not give in the past.

To me this resonates with the contrast between normal, day-to-day life, all tidy and right, with what we know: nothing! We don't even know if we're living a dream, if it is a shared dream or a lonely one, if we are a the dream in a world of rocks and stones, if time and space are real or just the structures of our perception... we don't know why we came, how we came, what it is this "I", what will follow, if anything, after death... and, in the middle of all this uncertainty, of all this endless thick mystery, we live our happy lives, paying for mp3 players and recorders, listening to tv shows, going to work, living our whole lives in ignorance as if we knew, or, more to the point, as if we don't care, as if it doesn't matter.

Well, it does matter, because, without knowing who we are, we don't know how important things outside of us really will become. It is this kind of mind state that the movie suggests, from a certain point onward we don't know what is real... but the thing is: it just doesn't matter! Because, although everything else might be doubtful, of one think we may be sure: the intention is real. Perhaps I don't exist, perhaps the world does not exist, but my intention is certainly real.