Monday, January 23, 2017

Gay marriage is a Cultural Appropriation

This is because marriage is a cultural tradition as shown by its history. 

Marriage is traditionally defined as a man and woman couple

The gay community has co-opted this tradition, and have expanded on it.
In the same way as someone might adopt the cultural inheritance of another person from a different culture than one’s own, any gay who forces others to believe that same-sex marriage should be considered a part of this tradition is guilty of cultural appropriation.

Thereby one can conclude if cultural appropriation should be avoided like the left requires, then this form of cultural appropriation should be discouraged as well.
But this would cause a major shift of perspective in the gay community.

Gay marriage was considered to be an utmost goal.

Although civil unions grant all of the rights that married couples have, like inheritance and hospital visits, the gay community strived to gain the specific title of marriage.

Why should anyone use the actions and objects of a cultural legacy which isn’t their own?
If one concluded that there is no reason to use symbols and practices from other cultures, then the appropriation of marriage for the gay community should be disagreed with.

However, because marriage is as of now a government service (e.g. license is needed), it must be open for all.

Moving on, gay marriage is related to the idea of the domestication of gays, exposed by Breitbart shitposter Milo Y. That is, gay behavior is not normal and should be the on fringes of decency.

This is why the NYC “swallow this” advertisement would only work for a gay demographic.
This perspective doesn’t come from a contempt for gay behavior; rather, gay behavior should be seen as somewhat cutting edge and at the limits of knowledge.
Homosexual activities are forms of experimentation that some of those with high IQ engage in.

If these gays married and had children, rather than not, they would propagate intelligence to their offspring, because IQ is inheritable.

All in all, marriage is a cultural tradition that should be respected if one is against cultural appropriation. While, if one doesn’t think that cultural appropriation should be avoided, then they should have no issue with it. In the meantime, it’s a shame that IQ doesn’t spread around as much, considering how gays have higher IQs on average than heterosexuals, yet they don’t reproduce given their lack of opposite sex relations.

Essentially my argument here is not one against homosexuality. Rather, my aim is to demonstrate the absurdity of demonizing and avoiding appropriating other cultures. Nevertheless, I understand homosexual and other queer behavior to not be mainstream by definition. Therefore, one reserves the right to be unsympathetic toward such activities, while remaining tolerant of them.

Note, I admit that the lewd issue may be true more for gay men than for lesbian women.

Also, for those who redefine appropriation to mean it can only apply to “oppressors” have to open a dictionary. That is, one cannot redefine terms like racism in order to fit their fallacious claims. 

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Psychedelics and the Ego: How the route to Selflessness demonstrates the importance of the Ego.

Many psychonauts try to use psychedelics as a means to dissolve the ego or personal identity (the sense of being a person apart from others) via the use of psychedelic substances. They may hope to find a state where the sense of I has spilled out into the world, so that who they are no different than their surroundings. The aim of such a practice is to replace the troublesome ego with a new perception of the self as one with the world, rather than encountering and dealing with the world.  Although this may seem as a virtuous endeavor, it is wrought with misconceptions that may lead some astray from the path to selflessness.

At the zenith of psychedelic experience, one can come to the realization that their ego, far from being an obstacle to overcome, is necessary for any involvement within a system. So there I was, on around 200 micrograms of LSD staring at a blank white wall splashed with the light from a bedside lamp. Then, the fractal center of a storm gleaned its importance. Like consciousness, although the center is hollow, it’s the locus of experiential gravity. The center is needed to move across the landscape. The edges are used to tell it apart.
But wait, wasn’t the point to get rid of the ego? But then how would I move? How could I come to anything if there was no road? The stinging realization hit me hard: we need an Ego to move, let alone be anything. But then, what was the reason behind the ego-death project?

Some see the ego as an impediment to a happy, peaceful, and fulfilled existence. The reason many psychonauts seeks to demolish the ego is for this purpose- to better their existence. This seemingly noble task is specious. What I failed to understand was that taking on this journey to rid myself of my ego was a blatant contradiction. While it’s true that selfishness is the root of many violent and otherwise socially abrasive behaviors, we must also recognize what the ego makes possible for us.
Without an ego, we couldn’t tell ourselves apart from anything. In this case, without one, we would cease to exist. How could one come to any realization when their ego is absent? So the issue is not about identity itself being an impediment to a good life; rather, the problem is to find what is it about the ego that is harmful. What could we salvage, if anything, from the ego?

We know that the ego is needed to exist as a personal identity. Would this mean as behavioral agents, we are destined to live unhappy? One may think this as many psychonauts (and others in general) associate the ego with greed, vanity, and bigotry. But what one may fail to realize another side to the ego: selflessness. Now, this may confuse a reader. They may ask, “how can the ego be related to the state of the lack of a self?”. I will admit that the common conception of selflessness, meaning no identity to associated the self with, is troublesome for this relation and will therefore be adjusted slightly. What I mean by selflessness is not the total lack of the ego. Rather, I am describing a state where one’s will to behavior is not geared for the immediate pleasure of one’s consciousness. That is, rather than behaving in a way that only considers the immediate happiness of oneself (selfishness), one’s behavior is aimed at the fulfillment of endeavors which transcend the self. Notice, this state of selflessness requires an identity. One must recognize themselves as an agent of change, which is differentiated from the target of one’s behavior. They need a self in order to act.

We need the self to navigate the world. The real problem with the ego isn’t its inherent nature of separateness from the world; this separateness is imperative for any agent. Instead, the real problem with the ego comes when one allows only the fulfillment of immediate pleasure as the only end to their behavior. A truly selfless person who has transcended the ego, hasn’t lost their identity, but has replaced their capacity for selfish behavior with selfless and transcendent or moral ends. 

This is much like the Christian concept of Sin. It means missing the mark; but what mark? In this case, the target is salvation from material desires (much like the aim of Buddhism) from imperfect and inconsistent matter. But why would one want to remove these fruitions? The reason lies in how material joys are exhaustible; once started, the conditions needed to satisfy the needs grows with time. This leads to a considerable wasting of resources. On the other hand, pouring one’s pool of motivation and desire into an abstract, immaterial, and transcendent being (object of awareness) will not lead to dissatisfaction, ultimately. This is because unlike worldly phenomenon, devotion toward God cannot be tarnished by usage and time. The divine’s incorporeal nature allows one to receive boundless return, akin to an overflowing fountainhead. One cannot use up God like they can use up material pleasures.
Orienting one’s Ego toward pursuits bigger than one’s self should be the goal of psychonauts and others in general. 

This endeavor need not be religious in the colloquial sense. In the book “In Search of Lost Time”, Proust tells the story of a man looking for fulfillment. At first in the novel, the protagonist utilizes his efforts toward material possessions. Resultantly, he fails to sustain happiness and contentment with that endeavor. Next, he tries romantic pursuits, which also ultimately fail to bring him peace of mind. Eventually, he accomplished his goal by devoting his life to creating art. His will is geared toward creating art. It can be seen like a kind of discipline. We can be like this character. We can find peace of mind, perhaps not through Christianity, but via any kind of discipline which sets aside one’s personal pleasures for an exterior goal.

Accomplishing this goal can fulfill one, unlike no material phenomenon ever could! We can cultivate our occupation or hobby to create a level of dedicated attention. Thus, one doesn’t need formal religion to find the same abstract, immaterial, and transcendental object or being of awareness. However, for many, worshiping God comes naturally, and can help one who may not have an appropriate hobby or occupation to sufficiently motivate their will.

All in all, the goal for psychonauts shouldn’t be the complete dissolution of the Ego. The Ego is crucial to movement and one should focus on how the Ego can go astray- toward the self and not God (or any abstract, immaterial, and transcendent being/object). But at the same time, one needs to optimize the ego by placing the goal of the self beyond their immediate pleasure. For if they do so, they could find an infinite wellspring of unbounded contentment with their place in the world, and limitless happiness. 

The choice is ours: Either be selfish for your Ego, or be selfless via your Ego.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Alchemy, Akira, and our Evolutionary Destiny.

What could Alchemy and the anime Akira tell us about our evolution future? Let’s look at each and find the threads of commonality between them, illuminating our evolutionary journey.

Alchemy is an ancient activity which consisted of turning the lead of the everyday mind, with its anxieties and insignificance, into the gold of an elevated mind, which is godlike in its attitude. The main premise within this system of thought is that the processes of evolution which we witness, has an underlying force to it. This force is what directs the branching out of species, culminating in human beings with our advanced technology. Alchemists believe that the energy or force driving this change could be extracted and harnessed. In doing so, the alchemist would aim to isolate and speed up this processes on a specific object. This object is known as the philosopher’s stone. It is the end product of the evolutionary process. In this sense, it is perfect and can grant whoever wields it vast amounts of power. In essence, the stone could be used for anything and everything. If you’re hungry, then it will feed you. If you’re poor, then it will grant you wealth. If you’re impotent, it will grant you incredible powers. Therefore, alchemy was a way of harnessing the force behind evolution for the benefit of the alchemist.

Moving on, Akira was an anime movie from 1988. It is regarded as one of the best in the genre, gaining a significant cult following. The setting is Tokyo after a nuclear war. There’s a motorcycle gang which has one of its members come into contact with a mysterious boy with wrinkled skin, as if he’s of advanced of age. The biker suffers a horrible bike accident as a result, and is then experimented on during the ostensible hospital treatment. Later on, we find out that the mysterious boy is a part of a secret government program which aims to harness the same force behind evolution identified by alchemy, in order to utilize the power for defense capabilities. In essence, the government wanted to turn the force which drives evolution into a weapon (not surprising).

Evolution is considered to be a blind process which has no aims or intent beyond immediate survival. This may be the case, but only up until recently. Since humans are reflective rather than reflexive, they can contemplate the situation they’re in, and plan for the far future. Such a condition entails the foundation of a self-regulated evolutionary process. Humans’ cognitive capabilities allow us to guide our destinies and evolution like no other organism. Considering this fact, we can imagine how, presently, we are like alchemists or the government in Akira. By manipulating our environments and bodies, we are harnessing the same power which drives the evolutionary change: behavior and genes. Teleology, then, becomes an important factor in our continued evolution. Because we can think abstractly, we can design possible evolutionary outcomes which are guided by a mind with intention and goals, ours. This puts us in the same position as those alchemists and others harnessing the power behind evolution.       

Therefore, given this fact that humans can control their evolution, which humans are entrusted with such an important activity? Is it each one of us deciding for ourselves, or is it some group of elites which decide for us? The former is liberty, the latter is tyranny. Never accept that someone else knows more about where your evolutionary outcomes should end up (or what’s ultimately best for you).

We are in control of evolution now. Both alchemy and the movie Akira highlight the ways in which humans direct their own evolutionary destiny. Let us hope that with this profound power comes a respect for the liberty of individuals. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

How nicotine can help us envision a legal drug market

What nicotine addiction and regulation could tell us about a prohibition free world.

Nicotine is considered to be very addictive.
Although it does not share the same reinforcement effects as heroin or cocaine, it still ranks higher in dependency.

This means that while heroin or cocaine is more pleasurable, nicotine, when habituated, plays a more significant role in one’s daily activities.

This is probably due to the fact that smoking a cigarette can be done almost anywhere at any time, so one associates its use with everyday activities, (eating, showering, errands, etc.). Heroin or cocaine on the other hand, because of its method of ingestion (needles, sniffing) it becomes ostracized from normal activity. Therefore, one associates its use with non-ordinary situations.

Hence, when one is trying to quit an activity, it becomes harder if that activity is associated with ordinary behavior.

Knowing how much nicotine can seep into the normalcy of everyday life, it’s amazing to consider why more people aren’t addicted given its availability.

The likely factor here is in how nicotine and tobacco products in general are regulated. In the late sixties and early seventies, congress passed legislation which limited the advertising of tobacco products. Essentially, the legislative measures banned advertising on television and radio, limiting it to adult oriented magazines and other print media or niche adult material only.

This ban had nothing to do with one’s behavior, and yet it helped reduce smoking.
Now, how come that’s the case? How could such an addictive substance have its prevalence of (ab)use drop significantly? The case is that education, not prohibition, helped individual make wiser decisions about their health and wellbeing.

I believe there’s no reason why this couldn’t be the case with other addictive substances. What drives many to use harder drugs is the realization of the falsehoods of what the “authorities” told them about substance use.

Therefore, we can envisage a market for drugs with high addiction potential, which relies on users seeking out the businesses rather than vendors marketing to the general public. Companies selling opiates or euphoric stimulants, for instance, would have their clientele seeking out their products, as opposed to the business itself marketing trying to acquire new customers.

Thus, we could sell potentially addictive substances in a legal drug market. There would just be restrictions on how these companies could market their addictive products. We may even see a drop in addiction compared to the rates under prohibition. It’s surprising how a cigarette could help us picture a market where we could sell addictive substances ethically.