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It’s 12:03 on a Tuesday night and we’re coming back from steak and shake. We had been forced to go: they had buy one get one free shakes. Peanut butter snickers shakes.
The discussion turns to whether or not we would do a certain terrible thing if there were no consequences. The specific scenario being a Godless zombie apocalypse, so no government or God awaiting you after you did this terrible thing.
One of us, the guy driving, says he would. I used to say I would too, because it does make sense from a certain nihilistic perspective. If you assume that the goal is to feel as good as possible as much as possible then it makes sense. Assuming this goal, the only things that have value are your own experience and feelings. Feeling good has positive value, feeling bad has negative value. So doing something that makes yourself feel a little good for a short period of time and someone else feel terribly for a long period of time has positive value. Other people’s experiences and feelings have zero value as long as they do not affect your own experiences and feelings in any way. So assuming that your goal is to feel as good as possible and that you are a psychopath who remains unaffected by other people’s suffering then this action makes logical sense.
After we got back, I came up with this line of reasoning and the guy said he agreed with it and the conclusion that he must think of his own experiences as the only ones with value. He said that putting it like that made it sound bad and that he preferred to refer to his morality system with the old saying:
Better to be the head of a snake than the tail of a dragon.
How do I effectively and efficiently gain more power (willpower, money, an internship, stronger relationships, improved social skills, etc.)?
To add variety to my blog, I’ve chosen to use a different Tarot deck for this reading. It’s called The Crystal Tarot by Philip Permutt. I’m also going to try giving this reading in paragraph form, addressed to the Querent.
The Significator card I’ve chosen to represent you, puzzledprimate, is the Page of Swords. This card is partially covered by the Two of Cups. This means that your general environment right now involves the following: love, passion, friendship, affinity, union, concord, and/or sexual relations. Also, that which nature has sanctified.
Your horizontal card is the King of Cups. Your obstacles may involve a fair man of business, law or divinity, a man who is responsible and disposed to oblige you. Your obstacles could also be related to equity, art and science, including those who profess science, law and art, or creative intelligence.
The card above the Page of Swords is…
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Last month I started dual n-back for my monthly willpower challenge. Supposedly it increases your fluid intelligence and working memory. I don’t know about that, I’ve gotten better at dual n-back though. Here’s a graph to prove it:
Dual n-back works by showing you a 3×3 grid. Boxes light up and a letter is said at the same time. The goal is to remember if the same letter is said, or the same box lights up 1, 2, … n times back. You’re supposed to keep your mind blank, like you’re meditating, and then intuitively guess/know position and audio matches. I’ve noticed a weird thing happening while I do this: random memories pop into my head.
Examples of random memories:
I’m in Spanish class and I tell the horribly unfunny racist joke: “why was 7 afraid of 8? Cause 8 was black!” a little too loudly. My non-white teacher is upset (thank god he wasn’t black, right?).
I’m in a different Spanish class and the kid behind me pushes my desk around with his feet so that my desk and I are facing backwards. I decide to sit there and not rotate my desk back as a way to say fuck you to the kid behind me. I look over my shoulder so I can pay attention to class for a good 3 minutes before the teacher notices. It probably would have taken her longer to notice, except the kid who rotated my desk and I keep laughing. Eventually the teacher gets a confused look on her face and looks at me for a while. Then she asks why my desk is facing the wrong direction. I say, “I don’t know”.
There are other memories that don’t involve Spanish class, I can’t think of them right now. The memories just pop in and out to disrupt my concentration on dual-n-back. Or maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something: maybe that I’m incredibly bored.
How to Win Friends and Influence People states that everyone wants to be important and that some unremarkable people drive themselves insane to feel important (Manipulation tip #7: make other people feel important and they will love you for it).
Carnegie tells a story about an unimportant person, I won’t go in to too many details about her. This girl gets tired of being boring so she makes up a story where she is an English aristocrat who births a new child every day and manages to believe it. Carnegie’s story ends with his doctor friend saying “If I could stretch out my hand and restore her sanity, I wouldn’t do it. She’s much happier as she is”.
This doctor is an idiot. The truth burns and yet you live with it, the terrible knowledge of your own impotence. There are things besides happiness.
Sisyphus’s back as he strains to get the boulder to move – this section of the mountain being a little steeper than the rest. A black peak beckons in the distance. Mocking calls from asymmetrical creatures echo and fade as the rock rolls upward.
Hades stands at the top, cloak billowing.
“This is the 777th time I’ve watched you push that boulder to the- wipe that smile off your face – the top of this mountain” “Why, why do you keep doing this only to watch it roll back down?”
“You’ve gotta do something. Now dontcha?”
Yes, now I remember. Now I remember why I do this. I stare straight ahead at the car we arrived in. I can see clearly. I feel alive.
“It’s the —-“. I know they aren’t joking when they say this, I can hear it in their voices. I don’t turn to look. I don’t want to see them coming.
My thoughts – a panicked crowd.
We are standing side by side in a line facing them and someone says, “I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life”, and I feel glad that I’m friends with someone who says things like that at a time like this. I feel the wind and sun, and try to think of a way out. Of course, there is no way out. So I think about how cool that sounds: “I’m going to remember this day for the rest of my life”.
I know that I will remember this day even though the rest of my life remains unlived. I know that what is going on right now will be etched deeply and vividly, more so than entire weeks or months that wait to be lived. I consider the possibility that I’m just a memory, that maybe this has already happened and is being remembered. Am I being remembered right now? Yes, yes you are.
I’m standing behind a glass cubicle that is the bus stop. A balmy 48 that feels like 70. A warm breeze rushes past my face, and I am anxious. I wait. I worry.
I will not miss this, What if it’s too late?
I see it in the distance. The bus looks like one from my college campus and I rejoice silently, as is my style.
I stand in the center of the aisle facing sideways, looking out the window at the scenery as it drives by.
Where am I going?
The feeling of something on the tip of your tongue, on the tip of your brain. The feeling you get when you can’t quite remember. The bus lurches.
Where am I going?