Archives for category: death

Shouting into the shadows at the dark pessimist…

A recent Twitter encounter with a dark pessimist inspired this post.  Not to try to debate him, nor to prove him “wrong,” but to expand the conversation a little.

Let’s continue…

The idea of Yin and yang is a powerful one.  Light must exist inseparably with darkness, AND are complementary, interconnected, and interdependent.

This idea is horrible for some people to contemplate.  Why?

The incurable optimist must acknowledge the reality that evil and horror exist.  If they do not, they are denying part of reality.

Even a nihilist must acknowledge that humans can choose to add meaning to their lives, even in the face of meaninglessness.

And while this act might seem to lack all meaning to the nihilist … in reality each of us can keep metaphorically pushing our rock up the hill of life, and find meaning in that activity.

For the nihilist, even if they don’t acknowledge this choice as meaningful … it is for some people.  That is the sum total of human reality.

The nihilist effectively chooses (or perhaps their life circumstances choose for them) meaninglessness over meaning.  So they forever remain trapped in an eternal loop of meaning and meaninglessness that always returns to absolute zero (for them).

(To me, our ability to examine reality IS the meaning of human life.  Those two ideas forever co-mingle in a cosmic dance that makes our lives play out.  But that idea is better suited for another post).

The dark pessimist can have an entirely (or mostly) pessimistic view of the world, and even back it up by showing points of the most horrible reality.

But the Universe is a tricky place, and optimism co-exists inseparably with pessimism.

The darkest parts of the Universe would not exist if there were not points of starlight (however small on a cosmic scale) shining through the dark.

How could you know what “darkness” is unless light existed?

Based on this analogy, the madness of human nature that was explicated in a thoughtful rant also co-exists with sanity, calmness, insight, etc. because you would not be able to know “madness” without the opposite.

So the absolute horror and darkness in Yin and yang co-exists with beauty, light, and delight within the sum total of reality.

A dark pessimist may not choose to see that.  They might be blinded to the reality by the most horrible parts of human nature from our history on this planet (which I don’t deny exist, either).  But that said…

Reality is the absolute total, and not just the parts of it that we choose to see.

And as I commented on your post, I fear you might be right, with time as the ultimate arbiter…

But I will always hold hope for the brightest and most beautiful parts of human nature to shine through the darkness long enough to slow or stop the madness you thoughtfully alluded to.

I can see those small points of metaphorical human light, and in fact, I will choose to look for them during my short existence on this planet.  But I’m also not blind to the worst of our nature, nor our violent and our disgusting history.

With misery, comes loving company … after all.

And I can also understand how that might appear to be “ultra-optimistic” from your perspective. 😉

As a principle that I stand behind, a shallow person tries to “win” an argument or debate.  A reasonable person tries to deepen their knowledge of the world.

I thank my dark and pessimistic interlocutor for deepening mine.

If you’re willing to dismiss someone as “delusional” based on one simple (and harmless) belief of theirs (like being an atheist) … that’s a little weird.

But what I really think is you’re looking for some “snap back” … someone to call you delusional or some other name etc.  Maybe some “back and forth” about whether God exists.

Nope. Because get this…

If you believe in God, that’s your way of sorting out the World we live in. That is something every person on this planet is trying to do.

I think it would be wrong to use your religion as an excuse to harm people (in any way), or to try and impose it on others.  Other than that … enjoy your short time on our planet.

We only have 75 or so trips around the Sun … what else are you doing with yours?

NOTE:  This version is slightly edited, given as an answer to this Quora question.

We live in The Digital Society.

We are using digital data to pursue some illusion of “perfection.”  In some cases, we are using it against each other.

In more nefarious cases, we are using this data to profit at the expense of our fellow human.  Some institutions are using your own data to extract your own life from you (see “We Almost Had a World-Changing Idea With the Internet”).

Nicholas Carr has most of this correct:

But, as Carr notes, if your insurance company can adjust your premium according to who’s in your car, it can also adjust it according to how many slices of pizza you eat. This is the nightmare world of Big Data, he says, where “puritanism and fascism meet and exchange fist bumps.”

And finally … I wrote about this back in 2009, in an article I titled simply…

The Digital Society. (PDF)

You have no choice but to welcome your digital overlords.  Enjoy the real-life embodiment of George Orwell’s novel “1984” everyone.