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Unplanned June 15, 2019

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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So, I’ve decided to write more. It’s a way to keep my mind engaged during the months when I want to retreat within myself a lot. Winter sucks, and I’ve developed a way to reach towards mindfulness which is sort of a hodgepodge of methods of meditation, exercise, and creating environments to allow my creativity to stretch itself.

So, as I sit here, I have no plan for what I’m going to write about, which is the opposite of my normal routine.

Usually, an idea crystallizes in my mind, then I spend time throwing a flurry of thoughts onto some screen, then (sometimes) editing it later before publishing it. It’s safe. Because I have anxiety about writing, as I have about most things. But my project for now, and so long as it is working for me, is to write more spontaneously.

Where I am.

I’m at a favorite local spot. Local 44. No specific plans tonight. Decided not to make any. But because I would otherwise stay in and be alone, I have a beer or two and read, or wrote, and sometimes I get into conversations with people.

Being an introvert, that’s sometimes a challenge. But I like it here. Good beer, good food, interesting people. If you’re a Philly person, look for the guy writing on a portable bluetooth keyboard with his phone in from of him.

How I am

I’m…ok. This time of year is hard. Always has been. I think it is for most people. The Winter has a way to simultaneously chase you into yourself and occasionally force you to seek warmth. One must seek a personal heroes journey, in the midst of depression and it’s neighbors, to separate oneself from their caves and transform their circumstances into the potential for experience, understanding, and hopefully a step of change in the ongoing education of being alive.

Somewhere along the way, you might find something inspiring, or at least interesting, along the way which will unlock a piece of the world. Treasures are hidden out there.

Damnit. I’ve been playing too much Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I have metaphors of heroic treks through a world of magic, legend, and a lot of killing from behind.

But–an I know it’s cheesey–it’s also true, sort of. There’s a reason that myths hold sway over psychology, culture, and history. There is something compelling about a narrative, and over the millennia we have unearthed certain patterns of narrative that stick better. It’s a sort of natural selection of stories.

Didn’t I write a paper about that in grad school? Something about applying Darwinian natural selection to language games (a la Wittgentein), if I remember correctly.

That was a long time ago. Speaking of which…

10 years

This bog will soon be 10 years old. I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I’ve changed so much.

So many mini-journeys in my past. So many failures, mistakes, and lessons.

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Surreal June 14, 2019

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A week ago, I was in pain. I still am.

A week ago, I embarked on a new path with a person who I have respected and looked up to for many years, and whom I am beginning to love in a new way.

These things are related. Confused? Yeah, me too.

I’m not monogamous. No shit. But being actively polyamorous–or a relationship anarchist or whatever I am–is different from merely not being monogamous. Over the last several years of my life, I’ve dated women who were not nonmonogamous, but were willing to give it a shot. In some cases, it worked out at least for a while. In others, it flamed out spectacularly. Most recently, I lost a person who was very special to me because I made the decision to invite a polyamorous person with whom I’ve had a growing relationship and flirtation to spend the weekend with me, despite the fact that the first relationship was already in jeopardy.

And, you might say that such a decision was not wise. And you are right; it wasn’t wise, and it cost me that relationship. And when I made the decision, it was a last minute, need to decide this now situation. And I hadn’t slept the night before. Excuses? Explanations? Rationalizations? Yes.

And, didn’t I know, deep down, that that would be the result? I mean, if I had really thought about it? I mean, if I had the time to think about it, maybe. Hadn’t I learned that the learning curve for previously monogamous partners is too steep to handle real life, in your face, not owning your partner nor their time?

I understand, from the point of view of the traditional set of relationship rules and expectations, that what I did was too much for her to handle. More than a few people out there would read this and be like “what a dick!” And, from their point of view, it was dickish. I feel a little like a dick, honestly. It’s hard to unlearn those cultural rules.

I understand that accepting that your lover has other lovers is a thing most people can sort of understand; we all have those carnal desires, and deciding to be ok with the people you love actually pursuing those desires, so long as you are open about it, is reachable for a lot of people. It sounds hard, but many people get it and can possibly give it a try. I understand that if most people can keep those things at a distance, it can be fine.

But my mind doesn’t live in the world of traditional relationship expectations and rules.

I understand that from the point of view of polyamorous theory from which I center myself, what I did was a little selfish and sudden, but it was a decision I should be able to make without ending a relationship in doing so. I also understand that theory and real world feelings and expectations do not often mesh. I understand that in doing so, I took a risk which I didn’t need to take. But I also knew that doing so would only be kicking the can down the road, rather than dealing with it now.

And it also meant putting off another thing I’ve wanted for some time, and so when life handed me an opportunity I took it. I don’t believe in gods nor fate, but I know that life is short and truly amazing opportunities do not come around often. If you don’t grab a hold of those rare opportunities, then you may miss them forever.

And now, I have to live with the consequences. One woman I care very deeply for, and now miss, is mad, hurt, and she’s probably gone from my life. I’m sad, and I miss her.

And yet….

And then something amazing happened.

And I don’t think I’m able, even several days removed, to comprehend what has changed, and how significant it could be.

And I feel guilty for also feeling good about what I gained in making that selfish decision. I feel guilty for taking a chance which paid off fantastically (for me). I feel bad that my heart is simultaneously aching from loss and from the pangs of a new love which has been years in the making. It’s too much.

And yet I know it was the right decision to make. And I would make it again, even if I might have handled some of the details differently.

I don’t want to go on, and the truth is I cannot anyway. The gist is I have started a new relationship with a woman who is not new to polyamory. In fact, she is one of the people who, over the years, has been an inspiration to me as well as a person whose wisdom and experience within the community has given me perspective on my own views about the nature of relationships, love, and sex.

And I’m scared. Terrified, in fact. Because new relationships are always a combination of scary and amazing, but also because she’s someone I esteem so much, in terms of her knowledge and experience, that I’m afraid I’m not good enough. Because that never goes away. Not fully.

I don’t have any philosophical point to make here. I don’t have any great lesson or insight here, because I know I’m in the middle of the storm and I’m too emotional and cluttered to make any sense of it all right now. I lost someone I really love because I was selfish, and then I spent a weekend with a woman who was everything I thought she was and more.

And it’s all been surreal.

Perhaps I’ll have more to say when I’m not in the eye of the storm, and can reflect on it with more clarity. For now, I will need to weather the double storm of loss and gain, simultaneously. I think it’s a set of feelings that many polyamorous people have experienced over the years.

work in progress May 24, 2019

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imagine paradise.

What images come to mind, immediately?

Is it Spring? Fall? Is the concept of season meaningless?

Think about the world you would create, if you had the ability. Maybe Thanos gives you his glove, and you can snap any universe into being. Or maybe you would just make one world, continent, or square kilometer just as you would want it.

Perhaps it would be empty, excepting yourself. Perhaps it’s full of family, friends, loved ones, and perhaps some friendly animals. Then again, perhaps it would be full of potential friends (strangers), each more alluring than the last.

The exercise is not to find out what actual, objective, paradise would be like. That’s probably a futile effort, anyway. The exercise is to show you that whatever your paradise is, eventually it will be hell.

Have you ever been a believer in a religion which preaches the promise of heaven? It’s not relevant if the same preaching includes a hell, because it’s the promise of heaven that I’m interested in, here.

Have you considered shopping around, and trying to find the religion with the best heaven? Sounds prudent. The alternative–avoiding the worst hell–is a similarly futile endeavor. It’s futile because if you accept something as a story you’ll “believe” in, or at least live within, whether in some metaphorical sense or with some regard for rigorous orthodoxy or orthopraxy (hey, your kinks are ok, I suppose), in the end you have not even considered the question, most likely, of whether truth matters to you.

I mean actual truth. Not your truth. But let’s not get distracted by that, already. I know…it’s not in fashion today, to consider truth. Trends, as they are.

Ok, so you’ve found your designer religion, with its bellini sunday brunches or Friday night whippings or even both simultaneously (like I said, your kinks are yours), and you are comfortable, occasionally gazing into a passing thought about the heavenly reality that you either look forward to or are emulating in real time. Hey, whatever paradise is for you. I can’t decide that.

But here’s the thing. I’m not sure that any paradise, whether we are talking about an afterlife, whether eternal or not, a set of ideals, or even a code of laws (logic included?), is ever going to be sufficient or necessary at all levels of scale, both in terms of space and time.

What I mean by that is that I don’t think that any ideal world, values, or laws are worth sacrificing ourselves to. I’ve never seen a religion, political philosophy, or code of ethics that always worked, in all situations.

So, I’ve given up on ideals.

Everything is a work in progress, and the targets are temporary stops, at most, along the way.

Remember: heaven is a place, where nothing ever happens. The world is a place where everything happens, but we keep missing so much of it because we’re so distracted by a blur of heavens everywhere.

Focus on the living Force, my friends.

In Nederlands May 20, 2019

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Half way through my trip. I just arrived in Rotterdam, after a long last night in Ghent, Belgium. I stayed with some new friends who showed me around a city I had barely known anything about, but in which I had a tremendous amount of fun and enjoyed far more than the other three cities I visited in Belgium. Bottom line; if you visit Belgium, go to Ghent. It’s lovely, less touristy than Bruges (which is also lovely), and if you like a night life, it’s pretty amazing.

Belgium is a lovely country with nice people. Cosmopolitan and international. Excellent beer and it’s very easy to get around. But last night I arrived in Rotterdam and checked into a lovely hostel (truly the way to stay, especially in Europe). Almost immediately, I befriend 3 travellers from Toronto and England, and we play cards, drink wine and beer, and talk about Game of Thrones.

Finding common cultural connections is the best way, I have found, to circumvent the social anxieties which haunts my mind, and it is a good thing when we can find those who share the lust for life and experience. It is, after all, why I travel. Those who travel find, in the willingness to not concern oneself with destinations, a companion which can be the best of friends and also the bringer of chaos.

And chaos, not unlike Folly, is perhaps under-appreciated. Especially by myself.

Brief note; yes, I am in Rotterdam. And yes, I did re-read some of of Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly this morning. and yes, Erasmus lived here in Rotterdam. And yes, those things, in concert, suggest not a coincidence. I regret nothing. Let me have my folly.

But back to chaos. (Or, perhaps, are the repeated tangents germaine to the theme here?)

Chaos has cast a shadow behind me for most of my life. Ironically, it was the anxious yearning for order that cast it. A shadow with such darkness and with such crisp lines of contrast to the terrain behind me can only indicate a close and brilliant distraction before me, perhaps blinding me.

Beautiful, like an angel–a Vorlon indeed–its manipulated sense of deification and desire for obedience is the call of a self-righteousness that , I believe, one should shed if one seeks any sort of wisdom. And I’ve known this for many years. That is, I have understood it, but I don’t think until quite recently did I breathe it, and feel it, and feel humbled by the illusion of understanding.

Perhaps all understanding is illusion? Is that too stark? Is the contrast cast by this image, this fire sun outside my personal Platonic cave, too black and white? Too binary? Not enough grey-highlighted detail?

It doesn’t matter. All that matters, at this moment, is that I remember that time is fleeting, and all of this is for nothing, ultimately. And that while this reality is not preferable, it is also not a reason to cast such a bright light upon it all.

Shadows are inevitable and necessary, but perhaps we should not keep any of our sources of light and folly so close that we create such deep, abysmal, shadows.

And remember the admonishment (or was it encouragement?) that Nietzsche left us; Staring into the abyss will invite the attention of the abyss.

Now, if only we could point that beam of certainty and ordered light into that abyss. The problem is that we are in our own way, too often. So move yourself out of the way and allow your lights to illuminate your shadows.

I’ll be home in less than a week.

Maybe I will leave some of myself back here, and only bring home that which serves the happiness of those I love, including myself. I should have less shadows following me, mostly because I’ll stop allowing other people’s lights (and their subsequent shadows) to land on my skin.

Not letting anyone cast any shade on me.

10 Years February 12, 2019

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So, this blog had it’s first post 10 years ago, today.

5 years ago, I posted a summary of the first 5 years, which included links of favorite posts from the early years. But 5 years ago I was also about to dive into some of the worst times of my life. We won’t speak of any of that, today.

I won’t provide any links to recent posts that I especially liked from the last 5 years, today. There have been some lovely posts over the last few years, and also a couple of years where I didn’t post much of anything at all. If you’re curious, feel free to peruse the tag cloud on the right side of the page. It should be not too far below this text.

I also don’t have any deep thoughts about 10 years of growth and change in myself, my life, etc. There have been all of these things, but I’m not feeling especially sentimental about any of it at the moment. In fact, the reason I even realized this was the anniversary was because while reading some posts from other sources this afternoon, I saw a mention of “Darwin Day”, and I remembered that I intentionally waited to post my first post on Darwin day, because 10 years ago I was very involved in the atheist community, for which such a day was a kind of holiday.

Man, how much has the atheist community changed in 10 years!

In short, the blog is now 10 years old. It’s readership has declined, it’s owner has grown older as well, and I no longer have additional writers adding their thoughts. I don’t think I’ll ever be as prolific a writer as I was around 7 years ago or so.

But I do carry a portable keyboard around with me in case I’m suddenly inspired, so I’ll keep jabbering. Maybe a few of you are still around to check it out.

So, happy birthday, blog!

frustrated by unrequited ideals February 4, 2019

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Do you ever get the sensation that you exist in the wrong universe?

It’s a common cultural trope that we find ourselves living in the “wrong” time, place, or family. Man, how did I miss the 1960’s, someone might say.

I’ve felt that way, but I think something else is going on here, and I think it might be related to a bunch of other relevant questions our culture is wrestling with. I think that there is a sort of pain, cognitive dissonance, or at least ennui which permeates the distance between the world we want to live in and the worlds we are faced with, and in some sense compelled to choose between.

We are thrown into the world, screaming, and then just left to figure out what the fuck is going on. And along the way, we create families, cultures, and national identities–tribes–which overlap in bizarre ways. At some point, some people, or perhaps all people to varying degrees, we start to notice gaps between the narratives. Grey areas in culture. Moderate positions between your Capulets and their Montagues.

We’re going through another cultural shift, in America right now. And in some sense, we are also teetering on the edge of a chasm that our widening narratives have created. We may not survive this next 20 years as a country of power and influence, and we’re having an ideological fight disguised as a moral one. The problem is that the several (and probably more) factions get shuffled into essentially 2 teams, and the bedfellows on each side are left to in-fight in their own particular ways, creating the illusion of a bicameral rift, when it’s really a shatterprint not unlike the damage done to a windshield when impacted with a large pebble at high speed.

Unpredictable and it weakens the surrounding substrate that allows the pattern to exist.

In other words, when the United States falls apart, the factions will no longer have a common culture in which to express itself, because there will no longer be the mechanisms of communications to express these differences.

And no matter who “wins”, the people who rise to power in such situations are usually monsters.

I weep for our future, because I can see the grey areas between our factions, and it will matter less and less who is right the worse it gets.

Stream of Consciousness January 25, 2019

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There’s something odd about white people of wealth. I perceive it as weird because I share so much in common with them, yet when I’m around them in a social setting, I feel like an ethnologist. But that’s not quite right either, because I speak the language and understand the customs. I know the rituals, the symbols of authority, and if I need to I can blend in.

Sort of.

I can pass, for sure. But I can’t take it seriously. I have that privilege.

One of the weirder aspects of being able to see your culture as if you were playing a role playing game, is that the NPCs (Non-Player Characters, for those of you not up on gamer lingo) are ever so slightly more complicated in groups, in real life. Sure, if you catch them one-on-one, they can demonstrate some nuance and humanity, but groups are weird.

Families, friends, neighborhoods, towns, cultures, and species are strange epiphenomina.

Then you start to ruminate, meditate, or zone out while stoned (and where are the differences there?), and you start to wonder if you are actually one of the NPCs. And then, on some occasions, you are almost certain that you are.

OK, so granted; from everyone else’s point of view, you’re sort of a NPC. But what happens when you start to become aware that you are one from your own point of view as well? Not all the time. Well, actually, yeah all the time. But you’re only aware of it some of the time. Then you sort of forget.

Why is it easier (for me at least; I cannot speak for other weirdos) to build a conceptual map of groups of people but not the groups of proto-people in your head? All the potential thoughts, decisions, and other psychological phenomena are, in some metaphorical sense, fighting for control. I mean, they aren’t actually fighting, because they are not aware of each other. At least I don’t think they are….

What would it be like to be a set of patterns in the brain which were trying to compel you to eat that whole carton of ice cream? What if that set of patterns became “aware” of another set of patterns, which, in this case, is trying to compel you to take a walk and stretch your legs, this evening? Does it hate that set of brain patterns? Is it jealous? Is it in love, with a love necessarily unrequited, because they can never merge?

How many people are in your head? I’ve got a few, at least. I have a feeling they don’t tend to like each other very much. And isn’t that the weirdest way in which you have ever heard someone admit they might hate themselves?

But that’s not all that weird, right? Everyone does, sometimes, right? Perhaps the word hate is too strong; a word with so much linguistic meaning, that to invoke it usually indicative of a feeling being too strong. Way to emotion-shame, brain.

We are legion. Perhaps the royalty figured this out years ago, and have been trying to explain it to us through the “royal we” (who are definitely not amused) in a way that we have been hearing as some aristocratic arrogance which turns us off and makes us susceptible to wanting too eat the rich, behead them, or at least try to make them feel bad by talking about the realities of poverty in the world.

That got dark quicker than expected.

And that, ladies in gentlemen, is why I shouldn’t refer to myself as we; I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I’m not sure that eating the rich is the solution. I know, I know…I’m such a bad Leftist.

What does it mean to be right if a part of your mind disagrees?

Hell, what does it mean to have an opinion, if a part of your mind disagrees?

I’l have to think about that. Translation: I will let the proto-people in my head fight that one out.

How are you?

Yes, all of you.

Postcript:

I wrote this without thinking about it at all. I just let thoughts fall out of my brain, and only mildly edited for typos (I almost certainly missed one or two). New project; write even when you don’t know what to say. Let’s see what’s been shaking around in there, while doing life shit.

I’m out

Death January 15, 2019

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So, I’ve been thinking about death a lot.

Not in the sense of thinking about committing suicide, but more in the sense of the stereotypical mid-life crisis sense. As in, I’m feeling absolutely terrified about dying and simultaneously thinking about how death might be one of the ideas we literally can’t think about, and yet I am thinking about it a lot these days. Absurdity is the word of the day, folks.

As a person who rejects the reality of souls, gods, and all that nonsense and  is therefore seriously skeptical of any possibility of life, consciousness, or awareness after bodily death, I am aware that death is literally nothing. Nobody has an awareness of their own death, once it happens.

One day, whether through horrendous accident, slow sickness, or quietly in my sleep after a long, happy life, I simply will no longer be. And that, I think, is both among the more simple and more difficult to comprehend concepts.

And it’s that which I want to try to articulate today.

 

Sleep

After work yesterday, I took a nap. I was really tied, such that basic focus was difficult, and I just needed to rest for a while. Now, I’m often really good at power naps, and this particular nap lasted 15 or 20 minutes, and I awoke from it recharged, as I often do, and ready to be productive again.

But what about the nap itself? What was that like? If you’ve ever fallen asleep, and I’m assuming you have, then you have had the experience of drifting off. You are decreasingly aware of your surroundings, your body, and perception starts to dissolve and become more fluid, and as you approach sleep, there is this dreamy, non-linear, almost not real sense of reality. Then, well, nothing.

But doesn’t that “nothing” only take shape, and actually become something, after the fact? I mean, upon reflection, I can try to pierce the timelessness of the lack of consciousness that was the time I was not aware (or, at least, not forming memories I can now retain), but all I can do is sort of bracket it and place a label of “nothing” or “lack of awareness” upon it. It becomes something upon reflection, so it’s not even nothing, right?

It’s not completely undifferent, conceptually, from trying to imagine what it was like before the universe existed,  north of the north pole, beyond infinity, or any concept which tries to point towards a barrier which, by definition, is impenetrable.

And so the question becomes this; was I alive during those times I don’t remember, while sleeping? Do I die every time I sleep? Do I die every moment, and the next a new person exists, momentarily, simply to then die a moment later handing off the shell of processes, parts, and perceptions in which it lives ever so briefly?

How many Shauns have existed?

 

And now, for the obligatory Star Trek reference

There’s a philosophical question which has taken many forms over the centuries, but which is perhaps best exemplified by the transporter problem as it is often referred to. It’s also related to, in the history of philosophy, as the problem of the ship of Theseus. Google it, because philosophy is cool and people will be impressed with this reference at parties.

So, Commander William Riker of the USS Enterprise (NCC 1701-D, to be precise) has to beam down to the surface of some planet to do some thing or other, because Riker is awesome and he knows how to handle shit. He steps onto the transporter pad, Scotty (sorry, more likely some random ensign or maybe Miles O’Brian) beams him down to the planet.

The transporter does something like the following; it scans every particle in the body of Riker, says damn that man is sexy, then in some way stores all of that information, transforms his molecular pattern into some form of energy, then transmits that energy to a spot on the surface of the planet below and then reassembles the energy into exactly (hopefully) the Riker that stepped onto that pad.

In other words, it kills Riker and makes a copy on the planet below. Right? Sure sure, the thing on the planet looks like Riker, talks like Riker, and probably fucks like Riker, but is it the same person? The body was vaporized by some computer, then the same computer made a copy of Riker as he was right before he was vaporized. Sounds nice for Riker 2.0, but what about the original Riker? Well, he’s no longer aware, or around, to care. So, it”s fine, right?

How different is this from me before my nap and me after my nap?

Before the nap, I have my predilections, memories, etc, but is it functionally any different than being faxed to some planet somewhere (preferably Risa)? And, if so, then why would this kind of death scary? I won’t be aware of it, and then I pass the torch to some twin of mine who gets to go on doing things, at least until their next nap or transporter suicide.

What terrifies me, in the wee hours of the morning, or moments of existential dread while sitting at my desk, is the fact that one of those deaths won’t have a copy of me to remember it. And no matter how irrational this is, it scares me in a way I’m unable to articulate. 

So, let’s try to articulate it.

 

Finality

But death, as we usually think about it, is quite different in comparison to being transported or an epic post-work nap. Because not only will the me stop perceiving, buy there’s no copy. There’s no more versions of me to keep interacting with the world, writing overly cynical and depressing blog posts, and also no me to reflect upon the nothing or fuzziness of transport to label as part of the continuation of “me.”

Because if it is the case that I die at every nap or transporter trip, at least with those, so far, another copy of me gets to wipe of my brow and be glad to “still” be alive. And if I contemplate the possibility that, as I step onto the transporter pad, I’m about to die, but it’s fine because “I” will only bracket the nothingness of that death as a memory after the fact and go about my day. My day.

And this is where those who don’t view the transporter problem as a death step up and remind me that all that matters is that you keep going on. All you are is the pattern, so even if, in some way which we cannot pierce epistemologically, we die whenever we fall asleep, transport, etc, functionally we continue in any way that has any continuing meaning. So it doesn’t matter. 

For them, William Riker stays alive throughout all his transporter adventures (and, to make this all more complicated, in one case another Riker actually gets created and another, separate, person is created who we remember as Thomas Riker), and the only death to be concerned with is the final one. You know, the real one.

Some day, hopefully decades from now, I’m going to lose consciousness and never have it return. I won’t be able to reflect upon that. I won’t be able to reflect upon that. I just won’t be, anymore. The same is true for you, and every living thing that has any level of consciousness. Even if we find a way to stop aging, cure all disease, etc, there will be a time when eventually all conscious things will die, even if they die with the end of the universe itself.

And I have no basis in experience to contemplate that. And recently, it’s haunting me. But, it’s not a Hell I”m afraid of. It’s not the fact that I’ll look back after I’m dead and regret things. It’s the finality of it. All of my experience is a memory of what either happened some days, years, or milliseconds ago, and one time there will not be that memory. There will be no prediction, reflection, or even boredom. It will just be over.

I’m staring into the abyss, and despite what Nietzsche said, there will be a time when it won’t stare back any longer. I’m terrified of the moment when the dark, terrifying abyss gazes elsewhere forever. I’m terrified of no longer being able to be terrified.

 

Inspiration?

Now, most of my life, when I would think about this, it would motivate me. Go out and live. Fuck convention and cultural norms, because they are just games we play, worldviews we are chained to, and mentalities which are not worth spending too much time bogged down in. Enjoy this life as much as possible, because one day it will be gone, it won’t matter, and you might, towards the end, look back in regret at missed opportunities while you are still able to regret.

Yes…I’ve thought about that since I was around 13 or so. Does that elucidate me a bit more?

Perhaps. But more recently, another edge to this realization has crept into my thoughts, and I meditate on the question of the finality of death only to perpetually be faced with an impenetrable wall. 

I become aware that I won’t be able to see how people react to my death. I won’t see those who love me grieving any more than I’ll see my enemies raising a glass to my demise. 

All of my experience comes from being alive and remembering something, or simply being aware of my own mind and the world around me. And the analogy of sleep is impotent here, because sleep, from the point of view of the sleeper, is defined by its being bounded by awareness on each end. Death can best be described as oblivion. An eternity of not being aware.

So why is that scary?

Is it because I don’t want it to happen? Yes. But it’s more than that. And I recognize that at some point, ideally when I’m much older, I may welcome oblivion. But I’m not there, at this time. Now, on top of compelling me to gather experiences of the world and enjoy it, it’s adding a true existential dread that, while I read about it from various philosophers, thinkers, etc, I was not intimately surrounded by in previous years.

I think there is something inherently terrifying about not being able to conceive of a thing you know will happen to you. From one point of view, knowing that I won’t be aware of it means I won’t be potentially suffering, so it’s not suffering I’m afraid of, here. And while I am afraid of dying painfully, it’s not that either. 

The image that comes to mind is the feeling of consciousness drift away, and screaming, somewhere in my fading mind, to not go. I don’t want to go. Please let me stay, is what it says, aware that nobody is listening. The desire to cling to life, and feeling it going away forever, screaming being replaced by silence, and then nothing forever, to be eulogized by those that remain to face their own subsequent oblivion.

I think it’s a fear of loss of autonomy, in some strange way, because the fear feels more like how I feel when I’m being controlled, manipulated, or compelled by another power than like falling asleep. It’s the inability to resist it which makes it the ultimate unpleasantness.

And yet I don’t think free will is real. I know I’m not in control of much of what and who I am, and I’ve known that for a long time. But with much of that, wherein I do have some control, I have at least a fight. With the fight against bad government, laws, or other people’s attempts to control me and the world around me, there’s the possibility of victory. In the fight with death, the inevitable loss is the ultimate nihilism. 

And all I can do, in the meantime, is not think about it, because thinking about it only means I’m not living now, but rather living within the fear that takes so much away from life. And yet I know that these thoughts will persist, even if only occasionally, until the finality of death finally makes it impossible.

It’s almost funny. No, it actually is funny. It might be the funniest thing I have ever conceived of. And yet I’m not laughing. I think I will need to learn how to laugh at death, while I’m still alive.

Once upon a time, I wrote for a blog… August 20, 2018

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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And then life happened.

I decided I should start writing again. And I’ve decided to make some changes to the blog. From here on out, I will not be perpetuating any of the previous silliness about silly people, as I have long moved on from that part of my life, and am in a far better place. This paragraph will be the last I make reference to any of that, on this blog.

So, if any of you are still reading this blog (and I wouldn’t blame you if you do not), going forward this will largely just be a space to sort out thoughts that I’m having while reading, thinking about issues I find interesting, or sorting out my continuing thoughts about the nature of religion, sexuality, and critical thinking in a world that is still pretty shitty.

And I’m quite aware that I’m just some over-privileged white, cis, hetero male in a culture that is increasingly focused on the voices of the marginalized. And to that I say, well, good!. I am glad those voices are focused on more. I’m glad that small, incremental changes are happening is some places, and am saddened that the skeptic/atheist world has been overtaken by so many awful people opposed to the world becoming more diverse and critical of privilege. People such as the “Sargon of Akkad,” Some “Amazing Atheist,” and “Thunderf00t” (among many others) are, frankly, just awful human beings not really worth listening to, anymore. If they are your people, then kindly go elsewhere.

But this will be my space, and I will not shy away from my own thoughts, and nobody has to read it. Frankly, I’m doing this more as an outlet for myself than for any readers. That said, if you are reading this, welcome, and feel free to comment, share, or navigate elsewhere per your preferences.

For anyone who used to read my blog and has come back, I’ll provide you with the briefest of update as to what I’m up to:

I live in West Philly, alone, with my two cockatiels, and I work at Penn Medicine as a System Administrator (running some software called Maximo and building intranet sites). I’m currently single, as of recently, and am dating. Not currently seeking a polyamorous partner, per se.

I’ve been playing guitar more in the last couple of years, and bought 2 more of them (for a total of 3), and have been known to sit on the porch and play with some neighbors or friends. I continue to expand my experience with music via Spotify, where I try to listen to new music and continue to discover bands I’ve missed over the years.

I have done a lot of travelling in the last year or so, and plan to do more travelling going forward. I’m mostly off of Facebook, occasionally tweet a thought, but my Instagram (@ShaunPhilly) is pretty active. I read a lot, I walk a lot, and still like to grab a beer in the evening (usually with a book) and listen to one of the many podcasts I subscribe to (and, in many cases, support on Patreon.com. Favorites include On the Media, The Scathing Atheist, Cognitive Dissonance, and (of course) Hardcore History.

Still an atheist. I argue with people less, as I find it largely a waste of time. I am more prone to the methods of the various people who have been doing street epistemology in recent years, although I will leave it to them, as I’m pretty much done with debating people at this point. I’m more interested in enjoying my life than trying to convince other people of anything, anymore.

So, what will this blog be? Well, I suppose it will just be my own personal mental masturbation gymnasium.  If that’s your kink, then have a seat.

Later

 

The tendrils run deep. February 26, 2018

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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And, so here we are, again. Hey, remember 4 years ago? The mess with a former polycule to which I belonged? Yeah, I try not to think about it either.

But, well…..

I became aware, recently, that Wes Fenza has not slithered off into the netherworld from which he was spawned, and is once again trying to become active in the non-monogamous world, taking over for another predator within a nonprophet for geeks, or someshit.

Listen….I’d be more than happy to let all this shit behind me, and not post things like this. But Wes is unrepentant, and he does not appear to have changed or even care about changing. If he had appeared to do some personal work to improve himself, I’d at least be willing to remain neutral, or at least quiet.

I have done personal work to overcome my flaws, and I am a quite different person than I was 4 years ago. Nothing he could say about my past can hurt me, anymore. I have transcended that shitty period of my life and become a better person. Can Wes say the same? Not that I have heard.

Source

Be careful out there.