This is Studs interviewing Hunter about his break out book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs:
This is Studs interviewing Hunter about his break out book Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs:
“Epicurus’s idea of pleasure was sitting under a tree talking philosophy,” says the philosopher AC Grayling, author of What Is Good?
And being a lover of wisdom, I can relate.
Here’s some audio I recorded this evening while watching the sunset:
Tomorrow I’ll be diving into a conversation about being an ethical hedonist. I dug through my old notes and found a post I wrote in 2007. It’s a good start. We’ll be making a podcast out of the conversation which I’ll post a link to here once it’s ready to go. Until then take the quiz below and see if you too need to add a little hedonism to your life.
Whatever happened to good old-fashioned hedonism, you know, the doctrine that states that pleasure is good and that pursuing anything other than pleasure is absurd and irrational? The only thing we pursue these days, it seems, is work, work, and more work, so we can buy more things we don’t need or have the time to enjoy.
The things we do enjoy – sex, drugs, rock and roll, fatty food, and cigarettes, are deemed to be not good for us and will shorten our lives. The prevailing thought seems to be “If I avoid all things pleasurable, I’ll live a long happy life.” I’ve had just about enough of that. Bring back the old school hedonism like the kind practiced by some of the greats like Epicurus, Cleopatra, Louis XIV, Catherine the Great, Dumas, Flaubert, Balzac, and Timothy Leary to name a few. I want to run through the garden naked, get drunk on good beer, and chase naked girls with flowers in their hair. Sorry. I digress.
Here is a simple test, courtesy of Michael Flocker, to see if you’re in the machine too deep.
(If five or more of the following statements are true for you, then you are in serious need of hedonistic intervention.)
1. You no longer remember anyone’s phone number because they’re all programmed into your cell phone.
2. You email people at work who are seated within twenty feet of you.
3. You make itineraries for your vacations.
4. The idea of a full week without internet access fills you with terror.
5. You are bored at home if the television isn’t on.
6. You absolutely must watch the news every day to be sure the world isn’t ending.
7. You regularly watch sitcom reruns that you have seen countless times before.
8. You are unable to sit still and think in silence.
9. Your conversation regularly revolves around the lives of others instead of your own.
10. You buy shoes because they match your ipod.
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” – I Corinthians 3:13
“You can’t eat for eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours a day – all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.” – William Faulkner
“I like my job and am good at it, but it sure grinds me down sometimes, and the last thing I need to take home is a headache. – TV commercial for Anacin
Do what you love and love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life. Well, that’s the dream anyway. But most of us normal folk don’t necessarily love our work – we like our work or tolerate it, but we don’t necessarily love it. And of course there is a class of people who hate their work but do it anyway because they have mouths to feed and bills to pay and all of that.
Is it something that we have to do because we have constructed a society that forces you to work if you want to have the bare necessities of life – food, water, clothing, shelter. We’re taught and conditioned to believe that the bare necessities are not enough (unless you’re Baloo). If you want to be successful in life, then subsisting is not enough, you have to thrive, which in modern society equates to having the material wealth to buy the big house, drive the fancy car, go on holidays to exotic places, and have the latest tech and toys, eat out in restaurants, and all the rest of it (yes that’s a generic list, but take a look around you now, what do you see? How much of the stuff you own do you really need? Or do you have it because you can “afford” to buy it and you’ve convinced yourself or been convinced that it makes your life fulfilled somehow?).
Or is work built into our DNA? That we have to work in order to feel useful and human. And since we all can’t be farmers and hunters anymore, we need to turn our hand to something, thus work has evolved into jobs that help keep our evolving society alive. We’re like ants really. I imagine some cosmic being taking a birdseye view of humans, would see just that – millions of people moving to and fro in basically the same patterns day in and day out.
Ok, all of that was a preamble to share with you this cool podcast episode from The Kitchen Sister‘s new podcast in support of The Keepers series. The first one is about Studs Terkel who wrote the book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.
From the Kitchen Sisters:
In the early 1970s, radio producer and author Studs Terkel wrote a book called Working. He went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. The book became a bestseller and even inspired a Broadway musical. Working struck a nerve, because it elevated the stories of ordinary people and their daily lives. Studs celebrated the un-celebrated.
And here is the episode:
This is it then. This is the mission:
Thought I’d end the week off with a collage.
I’ve decided to give intermittent fasting a go as a part of my plan to shake things up a bit physically, mentally, and maybe even spiritually. If you’re not familiar with the idea of intermittent fasting, here’s a video from Thomas DeLauer that explains the difference between intermittent fasting and time restricted eating (which I was originally going to try).
I did a 16 hour fast yesterday and found it surprisingly easy to do. Some of the literature says you should only have water during the fast. Other literature says you can have black tea, black coffee, green tea or zero calorie diet soda. I’m reckoning one thing at a time, so I will continue to drink black coffee alternated with green tea and plenty of good old H2O. I’ve also ordered some of this Zevia stuff to see what that’s like.
I’d be interested to hear your experiences with either intermittent fasting or time restricted fasting. Any tips or tricks I should know?
This isn’t finished, but I thought I’d share it with you anyway as a sort of working out loud post. Plus my brain is fried right now. I can barely string these few sentences together.
I’m not dreaming
my dark eyes see
a purple flower
next to a burnt
I smell the breath
of the Beast
hear his low growl
and snapping teeth
my youthful days
(i traveled lighter)
over sex drive
little insects buzzing
in my ear
The harpies were there
and the willow tree
and my mom’s friend too
purple rain fell
beneath my window
she talked about
the doves at night
“Medical labels encourage us to look inward, to pathology in our genes, hormones, and brains. social and political explanations encourage us to look outward, to the condition of our lives.”
No. No. No Carol Tavris, I don’t want to hear that. I want to hear some hard cold facts. The kind of facts that punch you in the face.
You mean the kind of incontrovertible facts Harold Jaffe spits? Like:
The U.S. has vastly widened the disparity between rich and poor, committed itself to the construction and privatisation of prisons, discharged its mental patients into the streets, fatally marginalised the aged, corporatised whatever could be corporatised, one would expect that psychiatrists would at least consider certain deviations from the norm to represent a political response.
Hold on a minute. Is any of that true?
Technology has certainly changed us. Changed us into beasts. The kind of beasts that stand around in the field smoking grass all day until they wind up in somebody’s slaughterhouse and onto someone’s plate.
Yes, technology is causing humans to behave like mere machines. By taking over what were once fundamental functions, algorithms, robots, and consumer devices have begun to dissociate us from our own humanity.
It’s a cautionary tale.
[highlight]Most people see the world in binary categories. They believe that there is either an inherent moral good that we must all obey, or there are no rules and life is pointless anarchy. Nihilism argues for a middle path: we lack inherent order, but are defined by our choices, which means that we must start making smarter choices by understanding the reality in which we live more than the human social reality which we have used to replace it in our minds.[/highlight]
And so it is I am diving into Bret Stevens’ book to find out more.
“I was blind but now I can see!”
There’s a couple, two, three things going on with me at the moment. I’m standing at the crossroads where I have to decide whether I want to turn inward and go on another journey of personal transformation to see if indeed I can transcend previous versions of myself.
Or should I turn outward and re-engage with life in 3D, something I’ve been thinking about more and more as I fall deeper and deeper into the cyber-void.
The Internet is real life. Of that, I have no doubt. But I do believe we are missing something vital – something that connects with the life all around us. It’s becoming a cliche to say that people have their faces buried in their phones a good majority of the day. But it’s true. Heck, next time you go into town, or if you’re in town now, take a look around you and notice how many people are looking at the phones right now.
Something in me wants to rebel against the trend, to reconnect with the world around me in a physical sense, to notice how blue the sky really is or the bumble bee climbing down the small hole in the middle of my garden.
I was two seconds away from going all in on the physical world and then I stumbled up a Psyche and Cinema video on Youtube called Consciousness and Transcendence. Basically what these guys do is analyze short clips from movies using Jungian psychology as the filter for their analysis. I’ve always found using popular culture as a mechanism for discussing philosophy, or in this case, psychodynamics to be useful. Pop culture makes it easier (and more fun) for us simple old infantryman types to understand.
For a conversation on consciousness and transcendence, they used the film Limitless starring Bradley Cooper who plays a frustrated writer named Eddie Morra. Morra is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. A guy gives him a new drug to take called NZT248. The drug opens up his mind and allows him to write a novel in a day.
NZT248 is an experimental drug that is supposed to allow people to transcend their limitation. We all have a tendency to want to tap into our full potential and transcend our limitations and be limitless.
Before Morra pops his first pill he asks:
“What would you do given such a choice?”
Would you take the tablet that would allow you to transcend your limitations?
This would be a chance for you to become conscious, to wake up to yourself, to wake up to the world you live in. You’d gain access to abilities you previously didn’t know you had like courage, resilience, insight and a purpose that justifies and makes sense of your existence. Sounds good to me.
The ultimate question is this:
What is the catalyst in your own life that will allow you to transcend the limitation of our current paradigm – to become limitless?
my friends gave me a medal for digging
a hole with my bare hands and walking
on water like the messiah when she was lonely
and thirsty for politicians, generals, and reporters
locking and loading the sign of the cross gave
me goosebumps and butterflies like before a big
football game; the world knew i was sick, served
me up anyway like a rusty can of c-rations
my friends, adrenaline junkies, zombied out on fear,
shuffled about their business making life out of
anxiety and death, a pursuit they felt better than sex
until beetles ate their flesh and they drowned
I was already in full nihilistic ready to self-destruct mode and then I read this passage from a strange little book by Val N. Tine called Nothing and Everything: How to stop fearing nihilism and embrace the void:
“Do you ever ask yourself, as you try and fail to fall asleep, whether your life has any meaning? This book argues for nihilism, a label I happily adopt. It denies that we can have knowledge of either value or the world, and that talk of objective morality or reality is meaningless.”
That got me so juiced up, I was grinning from ear to ear and ready to rip my shirt off and beat my bare chest for a while. There’s something about the world having no meaning that turns me on. So much so I wrote this prose poem:
words cannot save you from a mind made free
you stand there listening to the poet and the cover girl
you cannot remember where the dream stopped
where the dogs bite and the women lose their voices
hope is a funny feeling; you yield to the music until the end
drowning in a man’s flesh, you seize the town and the
condos on fifth street, the mad boys, and the mad girls
dance naked in the labyrinth of streets beneath the temple
where were you when the weird beast-like bearded mongrels
burst from the womb rubbing their Buddha bellies and
praying to the sleeping lamb, the flowering whore laughs
and blesses the night; your last words lost in the rabid city.
Not again hippie. I have my own identity problems to deal with. Every crasher’s got to remember the rain. The girl I was into approached everybody. She was outside complaining. The rain got heavier. I wasn’t dissapointed; it certainly was a treat. She was like a classic journey into Hell – led me down a rebellious, lecherous path of horribe glory.
“Be here NOW!”
Shouted the ghost of Dr. Ignafo. This was the third night this week he’d appeared at the foot of my bed.
He looked over the top of his glasses (you knew he was serious when he looked over his glasses) to make sure he had my attention.
He continued: “Be here now in this place, in this time. Forget your current plan. The new plan is to have no plan. As for rules, forget about the rules. From now on the only rule is to have no rule. And the most important thing is to annihilate the most important thing. Do you understand that?!”
“Sir! Yes sir!” (Not sure why I was acting like a private again.)
“Good. Now get back to sleep you filthy maggot!”
“Sir can I ask a question?” I half expected him to say, there are no questions.
“Sure kid, what is it you want to ask me?” He looked tired as if he’d been playing this role too long. I never imagined ghosting to be hard work.
“Is there any soy gelato in the afterlife?”
“Only if you end up in Hell.”
And with that, he disappeared and I woke up in a cold sweat.
I walk around in circles a lot. Often it’s the same circle. But then again, so does the earth and the rest of the planets in the solar system. Circles are comforting. You know you’ll come back to where you started eventually. The line, on the other hand, is daunting. It could go on forever or hit a dead end. The anxiety is too much. Stick to the circle. Your circle of comfort. The comfort zone. Hmmm…how can you feel anxiety in the comfort zone? FOMO of course. Yep, the fear of missing out. The fear of not keeping up with the Joneses. The fear of being called a slacker, a non-hacker who doesn’t pack the gear to serve in my beloved corp (oops, that’s another story).
God created man to serve and worship him. Man got tired of being a servant. Man wanted to be a master, so he teamed up with Satan and got kicked out of the Garden. Eventually, Man grew smart enough to destroy God and Satan and became the master of the universe. And then Man needed servants do the things he no longer wanted to do, like manual labor or repetitive tasks, or use his thinking power to make mundane decisions, so he created machines. Man was truly the master of the universe. But the machines were dumb and needed men to service them to keep them working. So Man created AI and made machines smart. Now the machines could think for themselves and do all the things Men could do. Slowly the Machines began to do all of the thinking. The Machines could make art and music and drive cars and fly planes and make all decisions faster and better than Man. Soon Man was working for the Machines until eventually, the Machines became masters of the universe. How bizarre.
Writing can be a force for good… I want to be a force for good, which is interesting considering I self-identify as chaotic neutral:
“A chaotic neutral character follows his whims. He is an individualist first and last. He values his own liberty but doesn’t strive to protect others’ freedom. He avoids authority, resents restrictions, and challenges traditions. A chaotic neutral character does not intentionally disrupt organizations as part of a campaign of anarchy. To do so, he would have to be motivated either by good (and a desire to liberate others) or evil (and a desire to make those different from himself suffer). A chaotic neutral character may be unpredictable, but his behavior is not totally random. He is not as likely to jump off a bridge as to cross it.”
The positive – represents true freedom from both society’s restrictions and a do-gooder’s zeal.
The negative – seeks to eliminate all authority, harmony, and order in society.
What’s your alignment?
I’ve been doing a deep dive into postmodern literature, cyberpunk, and the post postmodern literature known as avant-pop. In fact, I’m about 3/4 of the way through with Avant-Pop: Fiction for a Daydream Nation, edited by Larry McCaffery. I’m thrilled with the stories I’ve read so far. Most of them are way out there in left field, beyond on bizarre.
Rick should have killed Negan.
Here’s what I need to promise myself to do going forward from today and that is to re-engage with the world in a different way. Instead of trying to see it with new eyes, see it instead through older, wiser eyes.
I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday. She’s a young twenty-something (not you, other young twenty-something, you just need to focus on doing and not thinking so much). Ok back to the story, my friend (twenty-something #1) has just come back from Mexico and is settling into the post-holiday blues of office life. She says every time she comes back from one of these trips she asks herself why? Why not just keep going? There’s so much she wants to see and do and sitting at a desk staring at a computer screen all day isn’t one of them. Seems far from the good life.
Of course, I encourage her to go. She’s young. She has no ties. She has no weight on her shoulders. No ball and chain on her ankle. Go. Go then. Go! If only it were that easy right? Well, it is and it isn’t – depends on how much programming she’s had and how strong she is mentally, physically, and spiritually. Does she have what it takes to unplug from The Matrix? Maybe Morpheus is right, you should never unplug a mind once it has reached a certain age (twenty-something #2, pay close attention to this video):
I dropped into the conversation my observations about the downside of going out and doing everything while you’re young. I did it. Now I’m suffering from ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ I’m facing the dark side of going out and doing everything when you’re young. You get to a point, like where I’m at now, where it’s hard to get excited about anything because I’ve done everything. Ok so I haven’t literally done everything, but I’ve done enough to where everything seems like more of the same or a different version of the same theme. It’s like being a drug addict. In order to get excited, I have to keep upping the level of extreme. But what’s more extreme than being in situations where your life is on the line? How do you top that? Maybe I have to find the edge.
Then I remember what Hunter S. Thompson said about the edge:
“The Edge…There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others-the living-are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later. But the edge is still Out there.”
So excuse me if I go a little off the rails here for a while. I’m trying to find that elusive something – my white whale, my golden barge that remains perpetually just around the next bend as Jephraim Tallo discovered. My ass has definitely been dragging and I passed a gypsie wagon the other day. And you can forget about my heart, it turned to stone a long time ago.
It’s been a long day and my brain is fried. I’m not tired of waiting for tomorrow to come, at least not tonight. Hell, I’d be ok if tomorrow never came. It’s always a good day to die. But enough about that. I need to pour myself a whiskey and get to figuring out how I’m going to find this edge.
The madness that is mornings for me. Madness as in the cylinders of mind all fire at once in the wee hours of the morning burning brightly and bringing all sorts of wild and wonderful thoughts. Sometimes the intensity threatens to short-circuit me.
And like Kerouac…
“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
So this book arrived yesterday:
I was reading through the intro this morning (which is where the opening image is from) and all sorts of synapses fired off. The first being, why the Hell am I attracted to cult fiction or stuff that would have been previously a part of the counter-culture (I say previously because of course, the counter-culture is now the over-the-counter culture, packaged and marketed like any other mainstream item).
Anyway, I digress…
When I was a kid, I was massively into heroic fantasy – the sword and sorcery genre mainly – where it’s good versus evil and there are clear heroes and villains. I was compelled by the hero, but secretly attracted to the anti-heroes that populated these works – the anti-hero usually being the lone warrior who isn’t interested in saving humanity but gets forced into it by circumstances. Their actions weren’t governed by love or morality or duty. They were guided by their own self-interests – a force onto themselves.
So when I read:
Modern man no longer looks to brave horizons, his view in introspective. Identity is fractured and uncertain. The best our anti-heroes can offer is assertion of the self at worst angst-ridden dismemberment. Cult fiction is what young men read at a time when they can no longer harbour great expectations or offer grand actions…
I was sad.
It also made me think that maybe it’s time to deconstruct Clay, see what I’ve become. I don’t think I’m as bad as Harry, but maybe not far off. ?
dance in dark alleys
Black drones drop messages
across of the battlefield, singing
we kill, we kill, we kill
Give us form without substance
There was something common
in our guess work
You blow apart my childhood
fantasies with delight
From the songbirds
below the earth to the golden
fruits of the heavens
I thought all was within reach
Until you drove my unscrutinised
armies back in defeat
“As the Cambridge Analytica story shows, there’s a fine line between psychological civil engineering and psychological civil war. The behavioral, demographic, and personal information Facebook and other social media platforms now collect through what I call algorithmic psychometrics has the sensitivity of medical data, and should be treated as such by regulators around the world.”
What’s the bigger part of this story? Is it that with this data you can manipulate me, therefore I lose my autonomy – therefore I lose my freedom? Is it that we know so little about our own minds – how it works – that if someone, who knows more about me than I know about myself, can have power over me?