Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blind spots

As I sat at the glass table, five hours sleep, afternoon, my attention was divided between three strong currents:

(1) Are the odds of coming up with a 1 or a 5 when rolling two dice really so close to 50%? It seems like it should be more. I suck at math.

(2) Are lobsters sentient?

(3) God I love that dress.


Abraham Maslow wanted to raze dichotomies. I'm reading a book right now. One of the dichotomies he didn't believe in was the one between self-interest and saintliness. Human nature isn't half bad. It makes us happy to make each other happy (in general; mutations are weird: some people are compelled to eat dirt). Bonobos are sluts, not sadists. Life is good. But stuff got awful. Once upon a time, somebody had a brain tumor and he started being mean to everyone. He rounded up slaves and told them lies about spirits in the woods who would eat them if they weren't his slaves. The selfish/selfless dichotomy was born. Ghost-fearing slaves are better soldiers than slutty bonobos. Village by village, the brain tumor took over the world. And now here we all are.


Rosie is two feet tall and dainty, but fills up the room. Her husband is tall and handsome and talks quiet. They're both articulate, extremely intelligent, and saintly ethical. But they're also so sweet and polite that I'm afraid they might hate me and I'd never know, and that makes me nervous.


The worst thing in the whole universe is when you're reading someone who's right about everything, saying stuff in the same words you've used, reading out your internal monologue like it was theirs, and then they slip in there parenthetically "and I hate niggers."


Rosie and Megan are both wearing gorgeous dresses that are gorgeous in the way that a window is gorgeous looking out over some Ecuadorian valley. It's not about the glass.

Rosie is afraid hers will be too slutty, as she pulls it on over her jeans and t-shirt in the dimly lit main walk of the P. Faura wing at Robinson Mall. Everyone votes "no" on slutty, and she buys.


Everyone forgets to question something, and carries on some holocaust or another because "it's just what people do." (When I want to distance myself from the racist dead who gave me their genes, my dad is always like "Come on, everyone was a racist back then." I don't know what that's supposed to mean.)

Jefferson is right about everything and then all of the sudden he wants women to never ever vote. Buddha empties the sky of gods, throws away the castes, and then takes reincarnation as a given. Maslow doubts the whole slave structure of society, flirts with anarchism, builds a (daring, impressive) empirical value philosophy that reads like a note from me to you, and then thinks being gay is a psychological disorder.

"But everyone thought that back then." 

Well they shouldn't have. Two plus two equals four and people are people. If you have a philosophy that couldn't be built from axioms in any time or place, you don't really have a philosophy, and you're talking spirits in the woods. 

I want to say I don't have blind spots. I want to think that people in 50,000 years will say "that Ken Myers, I've read his blog, and it's all exactly right if you don't count anything before September 2012. Yep, yes sir. Just like the sun is round, yep. Ever since everybody stopped being in denial, we all realized that Ken Myers is exactly right. And he never wrote anything about hating niggers."


Rosie cries about things she's seen in Uganda and Ethiopia. Her and James support one orphan but don't feel like it's enough. James says they're vegetarians(+fish) because they want to reduce the amount of suffering in the world. Rosie's seen truckloads of dogs on their way to get tortured because torture increases the Happy Luck Magic of dog soup in Korea.

I does occur to me that I eat meat. I'm also wondering if fish have an "I." I'd think that'd be a cerebral cortex thing and that fish are really more like wind-up toys made out of meat, but I'm not sure. Also, what about cephalopods? Tools, communication, cooperative hunting strategies. So sophisticated! But so is the last boss on Doom II, and I didn't give the CD-ROM a proper burial. Confuse intelligence with sentience and you'll end up marrying a chess engine. Just like all those singularity institute guys who are afraid that if they make a calculator too powerful it'll launch armadas and have the pope crown it king.

But I am thinking I'd like to seriously reduce the amount of suffering in the universe. It seems like doing that stuff would drive the ladies wild. 

Thank you James, thank you Rosie, for making me think.

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