I received a phone call from out of the blue from my old friend, El Crow.
“Furious,” he said. “I saw that post on facebook where you were eating at a vegan restaurant.”
“Yeah, so?” I said. “A friend took me out for dinner and drinks.”
“Fag,” he answered, still unaware of and/or careless about his despicable use of such slurs. “Are you now covered in vaginas like in South Park? South Park is never wrong, vagina boy.”
“That’s dumb,” I said. “Matt Stone and Trey Parker are libertarian dipshits.”
“Yes, but at least they’re not feminine pussies like you. They’re real men. They eat meat and make fun of people not like them and stuff. You know–men.”
I sighed slightly and waited for the conversation to take a more meaningful and productive course (as I’m sure you, the reader will be soon waiting for this essay to do the same).
“Is that anime on in the background?” I asked, after hearing the telltale tedious dialogue, unimaginative voice acting and overwrought, melodramatic theme music.
“Not just anime, it’s Gundum. Get it straight, Furious. God. When did you lose your balls? You’re such a beta cuck. You know what you need to do?”
“No. What? Try vaping?”
“Well, yeah, sure. That too. But you also need to listen to the Joe Rogan podcast and watch the youtube videos of Rich Piana. Learn what it takes to be an Alpha. I saw that article you wrote about Trump. People like you don’t understand. He’s playing 4-D chess. He’s so many moves ahead of everyone else, it’s inconceivable to simpletons like you. He’s a billionaire, after all. There are only a few of them on the entire planet, Furious, and you’re not one of them. Maybe if you were confident and knew how to take the lead, you’d feel better about a real man being in charge. Show Missus Furious not only who wears the pants, but who picks them out and pays for them. But you’d need your balls for that.
“Also, I need you to be a reference for me,” he concluded.
“A reference? Of course. If feminine, beta cuck references are acceptable. For what?” I asked.
“I’m joining the Air Force,” he said.
At this point in the conversation, his method of discourse had become harried and agitated.
“I can’t do it anymore, Furious.”
“Can’t do what?”
“Retail. I can’t sell crap to people anymore. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. If I have to convince another functionally-illiterate nincompoop to buy an LG smartphone, I will shit out of my eyes and ears, Furious. Do you want to see that? Do you want that to happen? I’m not speaking figuratively. This is literal. I will shit out of my eyes and ears. Then I will stick my hand in a garbage disposal so I can collect disability for the rest of my life. Because I CAN’T HANDLE IT ANYMORE. My life has no meaning.”
That was some true Alpha shit, I thought to myself. But he was my friend, and I was there to help.
“Jesus,” I said. “You’re such a fat-ass little crybaby. You’re pathetic. There’s no way you’ll make it through basic training. You also have to, like, you know, pass a physical and stuff.”
He mentioned how he had lost some weight but mostly demurred on such seeming (in his mind) trivialities and told me that he had already taken his ASVAB and had scored a 78, which “guaranteed” he would find work in “military intelligence.”
“I’m not sure that’s how it works,” I said.
“That’s because you’re a beta cuck. I will learn to kill third-world dictators with, like, forks and stuff, while you’ll be writing sentimental poetry about drinking tea or some other gay shit on your shitty blog.”
Anyhow, that was basically that. The point of starting this essay with such a conversation is that it was difficult for me to comprehend El Crow’s decision-making. Only weeks earlier he had been basking in the glory of being a flourishing cell-phone peddler. He was the second most profitable “sales representative”in the entire state of Colorado, for the largest cellular services carrier on the planet. He had celebrated by buying himself a brand-spanking-new 1998 Acura Integra and was insisting that I wished I had the finances to purchase such a paragon of automotive luxury and status.
And, truthfully, in some ways, he wasn’t wrong. Sure he had been overweight, unmarried, uneducated and his career had been that of the vile, wretched, loathsome, nihilistic merchant class, but…he made more money than I did. And he did it without a college education and, therefore, without wasting the best, most virile years of his life reading boring, shitty books and listening to smug blowhards pontificate on the virtues of such disreputable things as the poetry of W.H. Auden and the dinner habits of Jacques Derrida. He also didn’t have to concern himself with finer points of paying-off tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debts.
So, yeah, I was a little jealous. In my mind, El Crow had been some kind of twisted, semi-heroic bastion of that ever-elusive concept of “success.” While I had spent nearly 8 years of my life earning two degrees and had compromised all of my values, goals and dreams to develop a goddamned career, this man– who was surely one of the laziest, most apathetic, most incompetent human beings on the planet– had built a decent life for himself by putting absolutely no effort into it.
Or so I thought. Obviously selling cell phones to a bunch of people who already wanted cell phones had taken some degree of energy, and El Crow was running low on reserves.
But the Air Force? The military? How did that make sense? How would that give his life meaning? Being lazy and fat and apathetic and being born with a general and wide-ranging ineptitude in all things being alive (with the possible exception of playing video games) was not a recipe for fame and fortune, perhaps. And it’s certainly not the recipe for creating anything resembling an adept military intelligence officer. But it shouldn’t have precluded him from experiencing a kind of gleeful contentment, right?
Who knows, but probably. Is real contentment even possible? Is the grass not always greener anywhere but where you’re standing?
As I’ve stated plenty of times before, I’m a bit dull, intellectually speaking. And so I’m only now starting to realize that persistent, pervasive malaise is probably the baseline for the vast majority of humanity. We’re not happy creatures. I mean, we have happy moments, certainly. But we’re not happy in our moods or dispositions. Mostly we’re discontent. Some more than others, but a simple, basic contentment is ever elusive.
This is the pessimistic outlook on life–that it’s miserable and unhappy. This is what it boils down to. When Schopenhauer writes, in comic detail, about what an antelope must be experiencing as its being eaten by a lion, this is all he’s really saying–that the antelope is (profoundly) unhappy at that point. Everything the antelope may have accomplished or felt good (happy?) about prior to that doesn’t matter, because eventually it just got violently and mercilessly ripped asunder by a dumb, hungry cat.
A lot of people abhor this kind of thinking–pessimism. It’s distasteful and uncomfortable. It forces them to look unflinchingly at certain aspects about being alive that they have spent their whole lives crossing the street to avoid. Then they wonder why they’re depressed and anxious and shit, because they have actively avoided acknowledging that, you know, life is often going to suck. You can’t be happy ALL THE TIME.
Trust me on this. This is a legitimate issue. So many people have spent so much time convincing themselves that a state of pure, constant happiness is not only possible, not only desirable, but natural. That’s what human beings are supposed to be–happy.
That’s beyond ridiculous, of course. And it also explains why they’re so unhappy. On top of not being happy at a given moment, they’re unhappy about their unhappiness. It isn’t being unhappy that’s really a problem–trust me, I’m unhappy about 80-percent of the time, at least, but I’m still, generally, a happy person, if that makes sense–it’s this corresponding feeling that their unhappiness isn’t the way things are supposed to be. It isn’t right.
But it is right. It seems much more likely that human beings are supposed to be far more unhappy than happy. Likely it’s a survival mechanism. If I’m convinced that leaving my cave to go look for berries, nuts and small game is going to make me happier than starving to death, I’m going to get out of my cave and go hunter-gathering. If I’m convinced that the act of procreation will make me happier than jerking off, then I’m going to make an effort to find a mate. And so on. In short, it is our discontent that even makes survival plausible. And once we accept that, it seems to be a lot easier to get a handle on our unhappiness. Like anything else, we at least realize that “this too, will pass.” We also understand that our happiness will pass, so we’re not caught off guard when it happens.
Most people, I think it’s safe to say, don’t think of Buddhism as a pessimistic religion. After all, it’s all about inner and outer peace and nirvana and vegetarianism and what not. But the first of the Noble Truths is that “All life is suffering.” Not, “Some of life is suffering,” or, “a large part of life is suffering,” or, “life can include suffering at times.” No. It’s very clear: ALL life is suffering. That’s pretty fucking pessimistic.
However, that’s really the only way to find peace. Buddha recognized that. It’s much better to set the bar low and then be pleasantly surprised if/when I exceed what my expectations were.
Let me give you an example, when I was a wee lad on my high school wrestling team, I was, for most of my career, an outright terrible wrestler. My freshman year in high school I won no wrestling matches. Not a single one. I’m not even sure a single match was close. I got pinned… a lot. Meanwhile, there was another freshman on a rival team. He was nearly my complete opposite. He won all but one or two of his matches and ended up making it to the finals of the state championship… where he ended up losing. My teammates and I later saw him bawling like a fresh orphan in the hallways of the Pepsi Center after the match, slimy boogers dangling from his nostrils and all, being consoled, unsuccessfully, by what seemed to be a large and attentive family system. Here was a freshman wrestler who had accomplished the rare feat of making it to the state championship match and he was inconsolable.
Say what you will about my pathetic excuse of a wrestling career, but at least I never hated my life because I lost a wrestling match. In fact, when I eventually did become halfway decent by my senior year, I was thrilled that I was pretty good. And when I lost, I knew how to handle it, because I had been through it before. Plenty of times.
Of course, the other wrestler went on and became a three-time state champion and accomplished things in the sport beyond the most unhinged whims of my imagination, but I think I was still a happier wrestler even if he was a more successful one.
Which sort of brings me to the next bend in this pessimistic journey:
Although I generally abhor and avoid seeing the world in dichotomously simple terms, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there was some part of my personality that is convinced that there are really only two kinds of people in the world. Those who can make the pictures conjured in their imaginations come true, and those who cannot.
Perhaps I am woefully mistaken. Perhaps nobody really is able to make the images in their minds come true. It would certainly seem to contradict my earlier assertion that everybody’s miserable, wouldn’t it? After all, if I’m able to visualize what I want my life to look like and I have the ability to turn that visualization into a reality, wouldn’t that make me happy? But I’m not so sure. There are at least two potential issues I see that can help prevent those who can turn imagination into reality from being happy.
One, people don’t really know what they want. I have had to learn this first hand, although, generally speaking, not from actually getting what I want, but from not getting it, and then realizing later why getting what I wanted would’ve been a scourge. Let’s say a hetero, cis male lays eyes on a beautiful hetero, cis female and decides she’s the one that he wants. And let’s say this guy is one of the ones who can turn the pictures in his head into a reality. So he approaches this woman and she finds herself attracted to him and they start dating and eventually move in together. This is what the guy wanted, correct? But what the guy never considered was all the stuff that comes with that particular beautiful woman. Maybe she has a large degree of trauma in her background and therefore is emotionally unstable. Maybe she was spoiled growing up and therefore is “high maintenance.” Maybe she’s simply smarter than he is and he doesn’t like it. Maybe he’s the problem. Maybe he’s emotionally unavailable and she likes to call him on it regularly. Who knows. The potential incompatibilities are probably infinite. The point being that the guy got what he thought he wanted, but because he didn’t and couldn’t consider the entirety of what he was asking for, he was bound to be disappointed at some point, as was she, perhaps.
Two, if I’m somebody who consistently gets what I want, what’s to prevent me from constantly wanting more? This is precisely the issue with those humans who have the knack for making reality their dreams of making money, is it not? Let’s take the example of Jordan Belfort, whose story was chronicled ever so compellingly by Martin Scorsese in the film, The Wolf of Wall St. Here was a person who was so talented at making the images in his head a reality that he made as much money as he could imagine, had as much sex with as many beautiful women as he could imagine and bought the exact houses and cars he dared to conjure in that dumb little head of his (and, as I’ll get to in a second, the people with this ability, from my observation, tend to be intellectually bereft). And where that lead him? Was there ever any satiety? Any satisfaction? Any general comfort or wellp-being?
Of course not. The more he learned he could get what he wanted, the more he wanted to get.
Therefore, having this ability to make real what you can see in your mind is not an automatic path to bliss. Nonetheless, it’s a problem I would certainly like the opportunity to solve, although I don’t think I ever will.
Quite frankly, I’ve lost my train of thought. I forgot where I was going with this bugger. What I will say, though, is that, if nothing else, these examples only emphasize the importance of embracing pessimism for our philosopic/spiritual starting point. For, if even the assholes who do have the ability to turn their imaginings into realities cannot seem to get a hold of contentment, what does it say for those of us who don’t have that ability?
Outside of murderers, rapists, child abusers and despots, I’m not sure there is any breed of human more abhorrent and disgusting than a true cynic. Nothing, at the very least, is sadder than a “disappointed person.” A cynic, or a “jaded” person is, as we all know, nothing more than a person who has been disappointed by life enough times to decide that being a jackass is preferable to being disappointed again. And one of the reasons it’s so hard to be around such people is because they’re so enamored with their own intelligence. They’re cynical because they know better. And, remember the old cliche: they’re not cynics, they’re “realists.”
Although I am loathe to disappoint such people once again, the only reason why they’re so jaded, though, is because they weren’t smart enough to predict woe in the first place. If they were really realists, they would’ve been realistic about life enough, in the first place, that they never would’ve put themselves in a position to be truly disappointed.
While they may be cynical or jaded, they were never truly pessimistic.
The old Roman Stoic Seneca stated, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” That aphorism has since become a cliche, one I’ve explored in an older essay, but I think it bears mentioning again just how few people truly adhere to it. An entire philosophy can and maybe should be built with this maxim as a cornerstone. Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. How hard is that? Every day I hope that a giant meteor doesn’t crash-land onto the earth, incinerating and vaporizing the entire planet in the blink of an eye. And every day that it doesn’t happen, I’m thrilled. And, should one day it finally happen while I’m living on this planet, I may be saddened, but I won’t be disappointed.
Disappointed people tend to be the ones who ask stupid questions like, “If God exists, why does he let bad things happen?” Which, beyond them becoming True Believers in shameful “intellectual” movements like the New-Atheist Crew, also leads them to writing stupid books about stupid things like the Spaghetti Monster in the sky.
The only real response to such gibberish is to point out that only an egoist or megalomaniac can assume to know anything about the “mind” of a God. Not that I’m arguing for or against the existence of a God or gods, only that it should be easy to understand that should some sort of cosmic, divine being “exist” then there’s no way in hell our human central nervous systems would have any means of comprehending it. Hell, if a God (or such-like entity or entities) exists, I’m not sure it even “exists” or has a “mind” in any of the manners we generally conceive of such terms. Hell, movies like Solaris or The Arrival have dealt with the idea that we would probably have an extremely–if not impossible–time understanding the consciousness of beings from other planets. How much improbable–or impossible–would it be to understand a God?
All of which is a roundabout, long-winded way of saying that using pessimism as a starting point for our general outlook is prudent. It keeps us humble. It reminds us that we aren’t the center of the universe, which is really what disappointment is all about. I’m disappointed because I had a picture in my head that I wanted to make reality and was unable to do so, therefore the Universe is a cruel, vapid, meaningless void. Or, I got exactly what I wanted, but it still didn’t make me happy, therefore the Universe is a cruel, vapid, meaningless void. And on top of all of that, time is running out. Death is coming, and it will arrive sooner rather than later, and then what? I either wasted my life not getting what I wanted or I wasted it not being happy with all I was lucky enough to have.
But, perhaps, if I recognize as much, I can learn what is truly valuable, meaningful and fulfilling about life, which ultimately has very little to do with getting or not getting what I want. Feeling the overflowing abundance of love of the ever-creative Impulse of the Universe has very little to do with making the pictures in my head become a reality.
My buddy El Crow will probably have to learn this the hard way, if he bothers to learn it at all. Even if he is able to get into military intelligence and murder third-world dictators with forks, he’ll probably continue to twitch with the inarticulate existential gnawing at the core of his existence. Not because he’s a bad person, or even dumb. But because he’s not honest. All of his efforts at finding fulfillment thus far have failed him. His thinking on the topic has lead him astray. And, yet, he’ll continue to deny what he knows to be true: that the world is a tough, merciless place, and therefore you either find peace and fulfillment in the midst of the struggle, or you find it not at all.
I think this is why, in the book of Zhuangzi, so many of the sages are portrayed as physical cripples. Because a cripple has no option but to be pessimistic about life. A cripple cannot lie to himself that life will eventually be fair at some point–which I think is the lie we all tell ourselves. Life was unfair since day one for a cripple, and therefore they had to find peace only by admitting its unfairness in the first place.
But, like all things, truth is a paradox. The only way to true optimism is to start with pessimism. The only way to recognizing the transcendental peace, love and unity of the Universe is to embrace its misery.
…Or, maybe, to just stab it in the eye with a fork.
Stay alpha, my betas.
Latest posts by Mr. Furious (see all)
- Beta Cucks, Cynical Jackasses and Killing Third-World Dictators with Forks, or: How Pessimism Keeps me Sane - Jun 1, 2017
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- Confessions of a dumb Taoist, or: Why some ghosts roll over in their ashes - Apr 10, 2017