In Technocratic Modernity, Habit Forms You

Habits. The bad ones seem to arrive suddenly like intruders in the night, until you begin to notice the signs of their presence dating back to before even so much as a suspicion stirred within. The good ones are trophies that didn’t come without a hard fight, but more like degree certificates than second place at regionals. The bad ones are the behavioral equivalent to Frankenstein’s monster.

It seems to me that most people find it more manageable to enact a strategy of self-indoctrination than reduction, intentionally attempting to cultivate helpful habits rather than actively prevent negative ones. It seems there is a resting (and rather unexamined) belief that if good habits occupy a certain portion of our conscious lives then we will have created an inhospitable environment for unhelpful habits to form, like antibodies. There are obviously cases where this is true, but generally speaking you are not a secure system no matter what you do. We’re far too complicated and too mortal for that matter, but especially in our minds which are forever an open system, even in quarantine.

Take, for instance, visualization. Any spiritual practitioner is aware of the vast improvements to this skill that comes over time, but what happens when this skill is plugged directly into constant thoughts of maintaining physical barriers and caution around all humans at all times? Reinforcing an imaginal bubble will put you in a cognitive one. What happens when the impulse to hug a friend is inextricably linked, through time and conditioning, with a guilt response? Are you comfortable with hugs meaning heresy? A failure to follow the cognitive and emotional consequences down to the depths of their seriousness is undoubtedly a side effect of materialist thinking. In official reality, the interiority doesn’t matter until it’s so unhealthy that it’s directly influencing the exterior world, typically though violence or dissent. The internal conditions that create these states are ignored or brushed aside, marginalized until they demand attention. Why? Because they’re invisible.

Yes, we’re apparently toddlers.

Each cognitive experience we have shapes us. We are a result of our lives, at least more so than the other way around, and even with the good habits in place we are being asked to intentionally create some very very bad ones at this time as a matter of civic duty. If not, you’re letting the whole world down and potentially a threat to the state. Yes, these bad habits are going to save some lives, but distance from other humans on a long enough timeline would be a conscious decision by the human species to put safety above literally everything else that defines us, safety that is entirely illusory from the start. This judgement call places the loss of human life as the worst possible fate imaginable. Death, the first and absolutely most natural requirement of life, is viewed en-mass by our society as the worst thing that can happen. Not the loss of our humanity.

This all stinks so heavily of a collective festering unattended fear of death that I’m worried it’s going to frighten the children. The problem is that the lack of peace made with an inevitable end causes all kinds of strange psychic and metaphysical phenomena to manifest in the intense avoidance thereof. These complexes are now being collectively shoved down our throats as we’re declared traitors if we don’t sing along.

You’re going to die. If you’re comfortable with that, then you have my sincere and total thanks. Perhaps trying to talk to others about death in a non-covid context could open doors to helpful discussions. Perhaps not. But isn’t it worth gently trying? Just remember the operative word there is “gently.” I’m also open to ideas here. Pease, by all means, leave us your thoughts. Donate a feeling in the comments section. No wrong answers, folks. Do you have any ani-SD tech to share with the class?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I just don’t give two fucks about living in a world without hugs. I’m playing along though, humming and cursing under my mask and reminding myself that there are a great many fates worse than death.

Hang in there and beware the mindfulness you’re not as mindful of.

Art by Heintje

Dildos & Other Essential Items

As I watched the latest episode of Last Week Tonight transmitted to one isolated room from another, I expected to find a usual creature-comfort in the familiar voice of a caring, humanist television show-host, but even the usual haunts for comfort seem to be… well, haunted. 

The video of the man protesting Amazon for shipping non-essential items such as dildos, a word which he seemed to very much enjoy saying to a TV camera, was used as an example of presumably agreeable, and maybe even righteous outrage. John Oliver completely agrees: Amazon should not be shipping non-essential items at the expense of the health of their employees, their families, and those on either end of said deliveries.

But.. what exactly is a non-essential item? Who gets to determine the parameters of this classification and how much empathy do they have for those living with mental health conditions and behavioral disorders? Do they consider emotional well-being an essential? What about our health? Not prescription big-medicine stuff, but the thousands-of-years-old technologies of preventative medicine, including adequate time outdoors amongst the wilderness, exercise, and possibly the most crucial lynchpin in the delicate machine of human sanity: Interaction. We need it even when we’re healthy and happy and there are many people out there who aren’t either of those things on their best day. There are many who don’t have anyone at home and have no job to distract them. And what of them? Are the suicide risks less in number than the Covid deaths and is risk-assessment/loss-prevention and data analysis even the right way to make these decisions? Roughly 40,000 Americans commit suicide per year. How many more will it be this year?

Somewhere in a room there are a group of people, probably all white and male, who get to decide these things, but we all know what a world of essential items only looks like on a longer timeline.

Millions are out of work and we haven’t even begun to see the fallout from the relief loans taking longer than small businesses can manage to hang on in the interim. Not to mention the intentionally unrealistic requirement of keeping all your employees on payroll if you don’t want to pay the loans back.

I think what hurts the most is that the projected number of deaths in the U.S. is down to a low of 60,000 from an original 2 million, putting this pandemic on the scale of a normal-to-heavy flu season. And 80% of the deaths in the US, at this time, had preexisting conditions. So why didn’t we just isolate everybody with preexisting conditions instead of shutting down the whole world and causing another financial crisis complete with total bailouts for big business and maybe-if-you’re-good grants for small timers? I know this not. It’s impossible to even gleam a clue from the downright assault on sensory input and the constant shifting of numbers and positions that is keeping us all hyper-vigilant.

Meanwhile the richest (and nearly tax-exempt) commercial distributer the world has ever known is making every single dollar your local business is missing out on and Jeff is not inviting you to the Mars base.

The good news is, I’m not the only one feeling like an alien and you’re not the only one who believes that you need that dildo. I believe in your needs. We agree that what is inside of us and invisible must be cared for and tended to, that our interiority truly matters. That being said, there must be a lot of consideration that goes into the decision to put an Amazon delivery-person’s life on the line for your orgasm, but I trust your judgement. And the man protesting in the video didn’t want the employees’ health to be at risk, but he was somehow fine with Bezos taking them hostage in this can’t-afford-not-to-work scenario.

There are a lot of angles to consider here, but the only things I’m sure of is that the guy protesting  in the parking lot isn’t helping anybody and Last Week Tonight gets their news from the same untrustworthy torrent of manipulation that the majority of people do. From one isolated room to another, to another, to another. Who know what splendors lie beyond these cold walls?

That was rhetorical.

Tread lightly everybody. Go for a jog in the other side’s shoes, if for no other reason than the valuable exercise. Admit it to yourself and others if you can do without something and avoid unnecessary risks, but speak up for goodness sake if you really need that dildo.

Until next time. I hope I could make you smile today.