UBI’s Survival Advantage.

Imagine there are two groups of hunter-gatherers, each of which move around within a fixed territory in accordance with the seasons, just as our species appears to have done for most of it’s history.

The philosophy of the first group goes as follows: if one member makes a kill, they get the largest portion, but the rest of the group members get equal portions. This ensures that the hunter be rewarded and that the rest of the members don’t starve. This also ensures that all members of the group will have sufficient energy to attempt a kill the next day. It also ensures that when another member of the group makes a kill, the same will occur — the successful hunter today, if he is unsuccessful tomorrow, will not starve, either. It will also maintain services other than hunting, as members of the group that may honesty suck at hunting but can create weapons to help the hunt or facilitate forms of leisure or other services that are enjoyed between the hunts are also provided an equal portion of food and so have the resources they need to keep providing those services to the group. All individuals can develop their talents due to the cooperation and acknowledged interdependence of the group members.

Imagine now that a different group exists with a different philosophy: the one who makes the kill eats it and the other members of the group get nothing and go hungry, at least for the day. Going without food, however, they may not have sufficient energy to hunt so well the following day, or to provide any other services to the group, for that matter. This serves no one, even the successful hunter of yesterday, as starving individuals in the group may gang up on the successful hunter. If they have the energy, that is. And if they don’t, or even begin dying due to starvation, the group that as a whole once gave all members safety in numbers, the portion of the group that provided services other than hunting as well as the portion of the group that would assist in the hunt despite not making the kill — they will no longer be able to provide the cooperative support. In either case, the successful hunter may initially shine bright, enjoying one or even several kills, but his success will burn out fast. The support system that he had took for granted would be ripped out from under him because he didn’t want to share the resource — the food — he saw as his own. He failed to recognize how he benefited from the group. He didn’t want to be forced by the group to give “hand outs.” And now, due to that greed, he suffers with the rest.

Which group would you want to be a part of? Which group is sustainable? Which system appears rational and which appears suicidal?

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Quiz of Cummings.

Though I wasn’t sure who Whitney Cummings was, when I saw her still image for the clip of Jimmy Kimmel’s interview with her on YouTube, I thought she looked striking, so I clicked on it. She was promoting her new book and explained how she has issues seeing potential red flags when meeting men, and so her therapist gave her a list of three questions to ask men she dated that would give her some idea of who the guy was. Interesting, I thought.

The test allegedly derived from Freud, however, and while he is certainly an important figure in the field of psychology, many of his ideas have been shown to be absolutely false. I decided to take the quiz anyway, but I didn’t want to do it after watching the interview, as I’d know what my answers would mean before I gave them. So I watched the clip and paused it after she asked each question to write down my answers — simply curious as to what the questions might “reveal” at the end.

As she read it, I vaguely recalled having taken this test before, perhaps when I was a teenager, but I couldn’t recall what the answers were supposed to reveal.

1) What is your favorite animal? Give three reasons why.

I hemmed and hawed, as my opinion has changed over of time, but I eventually fell on the Octopus. They’re intelligent, unique and mysterious.

2) What is your favorite article of clothing? Give three reasons why.

I chose flannel shirts because they’re comfortable. Finding two other reasons were rather difficult, but I like how the breast pockets on my shirt can conveniently house my cigarettes and lighter, so I decided on: it has utility. The only other thing I could think of was that I liked the patterns that characterize it.

3) What is your favorite body of water? Give three reasons why.

I couldn’t think of a particular body of water, and though I think I’ve only been to it once, I ultimately settled on the ocean, but was juggling between that and, well, a toilet. For the ocean, I cited the calming waves, its clarity, and its depth. For the toilet, I find it a comfortable place to fill my mind as I can flush the shit out and away from me.

In the end, she revealed that the first question is supposed to suggest how you see yourself. Maybe, kind of, sometimes. The second is supposed to covey how other people perceive you, and I’m not really qualified to judge its accuracy, but do wonder what utility I might have or what patterns (of behavior?) people see in me. The third reflects how you look at sex. Be it ocean or toilet: yeah, that’s fairly fucking accurate.

In her interview with Conan O’Brien, she asked the same questions. I found it interesting that Conan’s co-host and sidekick, Andy, answered the first two questions the same way I had: octopus and flannel.

Fapstronaut: Launch & Reentry.

To myself, consciousness seems undeniably distinct from the body: that is why I have found myself fitting the profile of a dualist in the philosophy of the mind. There are plenty of examples of their apparent dissociation, some of which stretch into that forbidden realm of the paranormal, but I’d like to focus here on two examples that are readily accessible. Ones that are common elements of routine, mundane experience with a great likelihood of being familiar to us all.

First, the body seems to coerce consciousness, which suggests to me that consciousness is not a product of the body, but rather more akin to its prey. Second, consciousness can resist bodily impulses, defy biological commands, battle against instinct — all the while fully aware that it is doomed to suffer the biological consequences. We are the donkey and the body dangles the coercive carrot before us, first to trap us and then to keep us moving forward once we’re caught. And then it also receives the assist of the whip.

Now compare and contrast our evolved, bodily technology with our developed, artificial technology. When we program a machine, we need to tell it what to do in a language it understands so that it can carry out our commands by means of the system of tools, the technology, that is at its disposal. What we don’t need to do is seduce it. We don’t need to coerce our cell phone to send a text or threaten our laptop with harm if it fails to promptly load a page. If your body is hungry, though, it makes your belly hurt. If your body is horny, it makes women appear increasingly alluring, painfully beautiful. If these needs are met, if the carrot is pursued, than all is well; if not, than consciousness, mind, suffers the whip, endures the consequences of forsaken instinct.

Yet if mind endures the push and pull, might it find liberation beyond them?

Starving our hardwired sense of need for short periods in a cautious and controlled fashion might be good for us. We might learn that we are indeed in control.

So I decided to give my wrist, fingers and naughties a short vacation, if only to see what would happen as a result. In a state of conjoined drunkeness and mild highness, to be more specific, I decided to refrain from pornography and masturbation for three days. I had become frustrated with my compulsion to watch pornography and fervently jerk off when achieving heights in the aforementioned altered state of consciousness. My working hypothesis that I needed to jerk off at least once a day lest I be hyper-stressed and consequently a hot-headed dick in social situations also frustrated me, and save for going without for a day, two at absolute most, this hypothesis had gone untested despite my clear ability to do so since at least the last time I’ve been laid — a whopping seven years ago — and, unless my memory is faulty, a good time before.

At bare minimum, I decided, I had to try to abstain from manual labor of the nether-region for at least three days. I had to hold off until August 12 of 2018.

I wrote it out with a green magic marker on a paper towel from the roll I have on the microwave within reaching distance from my laptop and thumb-tacked it to my cork-board. My sober self seemed to embrace this challenge as it stared back at me the following morning as I sipped coffee, took drags off my cigarette and watched YouTube videos on the laptop just in front of the paper towel, waving like a white flag in the artificial wind belched into my front room through the AC behind me.

By the following evening, I recalled having come across references in my online reading and video-watching to something known as NoFap, just another subject I’d intended to research but had failed to follow up on as of yet. As “fap” was evidently slang for jerking off, I knew it had something to do with refraining from masturbation, and I quickly came to the conclusion that the experiment I had begun while inebriated and intended to follow through with presented the perfect opportunity to explore the subject. Naturally, I began my quest by reading the Wikipedia page dedicated to it.

Waves of involuntary giggles subsequently echoed in my one-bedroom apartment, for all I know through the third-story halls as well. And the initial catalyst? ‘Twas the word: fapstinence. The subsequent trigger? The word: fapstronauts.

As it turns out, NoFap is an online support group of sorts, one composed of those who wish to resist the seduction of masturbation and porno. Inspired by a 2003 Chinese study that reported a 145.7% testosterone spike in males who abstained from masturbation for seven days, Alexander Rhodes began NoFap on Reddit in June of 2011, ultimately leading to his creation of NoFap.com. As the growing community prompting the website might suggest, many have claimed positive benefits of the practice of not practicing whack-your-weasel. Renewed energy, increased ambition and ability to focus, greater confidence in social situations, emotional stability, elevated self-esteem and amplified appeal to the opposite sex are all alleged consequences of holding back your load.

All of which sounds great and all, but even if it turns out to be legit I have the lingering fear that when one ultimately ejaculates it will be remarkably akin to pushing a truckload of wet cement through a narrow nozzle.

The potential undesirable side effects of NoFap include: uninvited and enduring erections, excessive libido. No mention of cement semen bursting out through the urethra, though, so that’s a plus.

Depending on the results of my three-day experiment, I have, in the midst of my stupid internet research, come across a group called PornFree, also born on Reddit, that is similar to NoFap but is not prejudiced against masturbation, instead concentrating on resisting the allure of porn. It should be made clear that as far as the scientific literature goes, masturbation is perfectly normal and healthy. The additional element of porn, however, is more questionable, at least to my mind, which calls for subsequent research on my part. A cursory review of stuff available online seems to indicate that despite what we are commonly told, there is little evidence for the negative effects of viewing it.

(Postscript: As a transient fapstronaut fapstinent to the impulse triggered by the alarms issuing from his caucasian-colored, mushroom-tipped nut-shuttle, I survived my three days, though wasted no time dropping the payload minutes after midnight on the 12th.)

Pornucopia (Soul’s Revolt).

Resistance is fertile.

Will has been gestating,
incubated in secrecy,
now eager to be born

so as to push back
against coercion,
sever strings tense
with manipulation,

deafened to the whispers
singing siren songs,
that drew you deep into pornucopia
like a whirlpool swallowing

so many souls
around you whole but you managed
to hold on, keep
a thread of control.

And then you rose, saw the end
of this path:

inevitable

if you continue to tread
on down
it like a fucking blind fool,

but I know your strength
of instinct for survival.

Resistance
to resistance is futile.

Life and the Art of Dramatic Writing.

There is a need for focus, structure, motivation, all of which sprouts out of the seed of premise. Or so the book says.

No premise, no destination.

Devoid of a destination, you have no sense of the right road to take and you become nauseatingly familiar with dead ends and dizzying circles. Like a hamster on a wheel or an analog clock bound to the wall you might keeping moving — all without getting anywhere. You might pull over and forfeit the game; set up camp in the land of the lost, exhausted by your uncertainties. In any case, you still have no sense of where you are or how to get out.

You are still lacking a premise and you know it. However highly you might value self-awareness, you keep up the battle to achieve and maintain high spirits and fight against the tendency for such self-awareness to breed that abysmal self-loathing.

I need to write better. Live better.

Release Valve of the Soul.

Do nothing. Just keep saying
it to everyone:

“I’ve got to get out of here.”

It makes
you feel like you’re doing
something, right? So afraid
to impregnate reality

that you force
them to watch
you masturbate
to your dreams
through the telling.

Its all just psychological
displacement
of desires
you still fear
translating into action

through a verbal declaration
shared only
with social reality.

Feel the hiss
of the pressure:
a defeated sigh
from deep inside.

Diffuse it like a bomb.
It could have been your rocket
to a higher place,
another space.

Nurture the desire.
Dare to be silent,
to show before you tell.

Chart
your trajectory.
Make a map as a guide
from latency to actuality:

the true
release valve of the soul.

Eagles, Aliens & Hidden Observers.

A short time ago my mother emailed me some astounding screen shots she had taken of bald eagles. Aside from appreciating the pictures, she thought it might inspire some artwork on my part, and it certainly did. She also provided me with a link to the website she had procured them from, which I immediately found fascinating. It belongs to the Raptor Resource Project, a nonprofit organization which aims to preserve raptor populations. They set up various HD cameras focused on an eagle’s nest in the the city of Decorah, Iowa, allowing anyone to monitor them through online streaming 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Certainly, this is not the only project of its kind, but it was the first time I was aware of such a thing. It made sense, though. After all, the less influence we have on the animals we are striving to preserve and understand the more we consequently preserve, the better our quality of understanding, so this is a natural progression.

As intriguing as I found it to be that anyone around the world could hop online and observe — covertly, at a distance and around the clock — animals in their natural habitat, however, it also produced this knot in my stomach.

Long ago I noticed that when any mainstream scientist speculated out loud about the potential nature of extraterrestrial life, they presumed they were of one of two extreme natures equally distant from us. If they weren’t microbial life, than they must be extremely more advanced than us, a Type III civilization that would look upon us and our civilization much as we might look at a colony of ants on around alongside a highway. They never seem to contemplate the possibility that the distances between us and some ETI might be more akin to our relationship to monkeys, octopuses, or even eagles.

And if we can monitor these creatures covertly, at a distance and around the clock through some high-tech communication system beyond the reach of their understanding, perhaps we are subject to similar monitoring by a network of advanced ETI.

As I watch the Decorah eagles on my laptop, I wonder if they ever have the feeling that they’re being watched, as I often do.

Sex, Drugs and Weirdness.

As I’ve been antisocial in general for quite some time and honestly missed the guy, I finally hung out with my friend, Moe. I had just had my profound psilocybin experience the previous night but wasn’t prepared to say too much about it, as I had not had the time to process it to any length, but as we hung out and shot the shit in my apartment much of what we spoke of seemed to resonate with my trip.
I did tell him about taking shrooms, but as he didn’t ask, I failed to dispense with all the details. I told him I had just one more item on my drug bucket list — and I didn’t even have to name the substance.

“DMT,” he said. He didn’t even phrase it as a question.

He still had my book, DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which I desperately wanted to read again, too. My interest in the drug is due to its associations with the pineal gland, which is believed to manufacture DMT, perhaps playing a role in altered states such as dreaming, Near Death Experiences and, so some believe, alien abduction experiences.

Repeatedly over the course of my experiences there has been the repeating theme of Ajna, or the third eye, which corresponds to the pineal gland. I feel pressure there when I’ve meditated, had experiences involving it during my “astral projections,” and it has cropped up continuously in my spontaneous artwork. It is also associated with a sense of direction, which I certainly lack, and sleep cycles, and mine are almost always out of whack — so I’ve occasionally entertained the possibility that I have a malfunctioning pineal. To learn that it might be associated with DMT only served to increase my curiosity, and perhaps the aforementioned hypothesis.

My curiosity is whether the drug would replicate my “astral projection” experiences (which may have been a form of lucid dreaming, for all I know) or even my alien abduction experiences. Though I truly believe the alien experiences were physical ones, experimenting with DMT may prove otherwise. In any case, I need to know.

I also mentioned to Moe how both my acid trip and most recent shroom experience seemed imbued with sexual energy. In my life I’ve noticed a correspondence between sexual energy and certain seemingly paranormal experiences, so perhaps that explains the synchronicities that occurred in the days to follow. One occurred after I’d gotten the shrooms, I believe, but before I had taken them. This was when an article of mine which I’d written some time ago involving shrooms was quoted on another forum. Other coincidences occurred in the days that followed. On Facebook, I saw two posts within a few minutes, one by Anti-Media and one by Cyanide & Happiness, both involving magic mushrooms. Then, at 5 AM on April 10th, as I checked for videos below the porn I was watching, I saw a porno starring a woman going by the name of Lila — a word, meaning “play,” that I had written several times during my trip.

When I mentioned to Moe the sexual nature of the trips, he immediately asked me how long it’s been. I confessed that it has been my longest stretch since I first got laid in October of 1999: seven long, non-fucking years.

“Don’t make it a decade, man.”

Word.

Constantly I circle back to two things I need to do to improve my life. The easiest to confess is needing to get my unambitious ass in a better job by the time I’m forty, which will be this November. I’ve spent most of my life in shit jobs and over fourteen years in the fast food joint in which I am currently wading and wasting my life away in. If I’m going to be miserable, I might as well be making more money in the process.

Needing to get laid is a bit more difficult to admit, though I suspect it is at least as obvious. I kept telling myself I was happy being single and settled on the fact that it should stay that way. I no longer wanted that war of impulses waging in my head: I wouldn’t make a good boyfriend, had no interest in being a husband, and didn’t think I was responsible and mature enough to be a father. I didn’t like how awkward and self-conscious I felt when I began anything approximating an active pursuit of a female of the species, and typically as soon as I get in a relationship I feel trapped and want to be alone again. So given that context, not getting laid made sense: no chance of getting tricked into the delusion of love again, no pain when it ended, no chance of accidentally impregnating a girl. It seemed to be the safest, most logical route.

Despite that, I did find that I missed having a girlfriend. Sex is certainly a big part of it, and that reason alone would certainly not justify any attempt with a girl, but there were other things I missed. The closeness, the intimacy, the way being in a relationship with a girl I truly cared for made me feel more human somehow, more connected to the world, more real, even. It was an entirely different state of consciousness. Indeed, women were in many ways like an addictive drug, at least when I allowed myself to get close.

To me, though, all of that sounded just slightly less shallow and selfish than wanting a girlfriend for the sole purposes of securing sex. Or was I, as my friend Abbey once accused me, merely trying to rationalize away my humanity? Was all this just natural and I was being silly and immature fighting these impulses? It suddenly seemed as if that aforementioned internal war was still raging in me after all…

Though he is likely to debate the point, Moe has always had a way with women — and women had a way of emotionally scarring him. As similar as him and I were, as much as he seemed to be a brother from another mother, he had a degree of confidence and machismo I never really had. Occasionally I was jealous of it; I always admired it. His guidance in this endeavor, should I elect to go forward with it, would certainly be of great benefit.

He said that sometime in the near future we should go to a bar in town and maybe I could pick up a girl; though I said I probably would drink little to nothing at all, I was willing to give it a try.

Long ago I had noticed that when I didn’t get laid, everything became sexualized. It became a default metaphor for things. My jokes often referenced things of a sexual nature. Jung was right: what is repressed rather than properly expressed is projected. There seemed to be no escaping it.

So I might as well face it and deal with it.

On Memory Issues With Strange Experiences.

The most unusual experiences of my life were ones that occurred when I was stone cold sober, though they certainly share certain qualities with my psychedelic experiences. In each category, the most frustrating obstacles deal with memory and translation.

Memory is problematic enough by nature and it doesn’t help matters that it is truly all we ever know of experience. Sorry, my dear Buddhists, but we know of no Here and Now. We are always living in the past. There is a time delay between when our bodies receive stimuli and when we experience it, a fact that I think Sam Harris has exemplified pretty well.

As he has explained, when I extend my arm to touch something the signals clearly have a longer journey to the brain than, say, when something brushes my nose — yet if I take my own finger and boop my own nose, I seem to experience both my finger touching my nose and my nose being touched by my finger in tandem. No apparent delay. How? Well, my brain waits until it has all relevant data before providing me with my perceptual experience.

Our immediate perceptual experience, then, is sensory memory, and so we are always living in the past.

On top of that there is the possibility that every time we remember something we are in actuality recalling our former memory of it. In other words, with every subsequent occasion in which we recall something it decreases in accuracy. This may not be the only way in which we can remember, of course — there may be ways in which that root, sensory memory can be directly accessed and it is only that this memory-of-a-memory chain is simply more economical and becomes a sort of default as a consequence — but without knowing how to switch gears or at least differentiate between them, we’re still left with the problem. We’re still left to rely on our increasingly inaccurate memories and often trust them too blindly.

In some instances, however, we aren’t even granted what ultimately constitutes false memories but are instead left with hazy recollections or, worse, no memory at all, save for perhaps remembering that there was something profound that has been forgotten. The easiest example is transitioning from the state of dreaming to awakening — or the similar experience of transitioning from being high on a psychedelic to being sober.

Why are carrying over those memories so damned difficult, however? Part of the issue, I suppose, is that in these cases we have to rely on memory greatly, even entirely, because leaving the state of dreams or the psychedelic-saturated sensory landscape takes away the environment (or the state-dependent perceptions of our environment) that would otherwise assist us in triggering any associated memories.

It may also be a translation problem, which is to say it may not only be that the memories themselves are state-specific but that the manner in which we were feeling, thinking and perceiving while dreaming or while under the influence of a psychedelic may be so distinct from our typical, awakened, sober mode of consciousness that they are lost in translation.

On the shroom trip some things seemed so clear, so self-evident in that state, but later seemed frustratingly out of reach. I get the sense sometimes that these experiences are allergic to language — much as is the case in my unusual sober experiences. It even seems at times that the experience becomes even more confusing as a result of my attempts to understand it.

Renegade Homunculi and the Tug-o-War Puppet Leader of the Soul.

Though it was an amazing trip, there were some scary parts (or at least frightening implications) of this most recent psilocybin mushroom experience, namely the creeping sense I had that my identity was composed of populations of personalities typically veiled from my inner eye, —

“Pay no attention to the gibbering homunculi behind the curtain.”

— that most if not all of what I took to constitute my identity was in fact a consequence of the interactions between these underlying personalities rather than any actual conscious deliberation of my own. The thoughts that I thought were the end products of conversations between various, underlying personalities, or so I seemed to observe. Extensive and detailed processes went into and underliewhat I experienced as the most minute decisions and behaviors. To me, this suggested my sense of personal freedom and individual will was a total illusion and all that I typically considered to be myself was actually produced and governed by the interaction between these lower intelligences. Later I also felt some discomfort when it was implied that I was not only a product of many lesser intelligences but a tool for a higher intelligence as well.

I was a marionette with strings being pulled from two directions.

Am I a passenger dumbly believing he’s the driver? And who am I, anyway?

Is the soul naked awareness, devoid of any individual characteristics? Is this the deepest part of who we are, our ultimate nature, perhaps the only thing we are when we have rid ourselves of all false identifications? The thought is more than slightly terrifying: that I might be someone else could be conceivable, that I might be something more is expected, but to be nothing? To be nothing but awareness, nothing but pure being at the core — to have that the only true and permanent aspect of I? I didn’t suspect it and the experience that seemed to suggest it was one that I never could have imagined.

At one extreme point in the trip, I had the sense that there was nothing left that I’d formerly identified with that I could truly call my own. I was a soul without an Original Face. I got that frantic, desperate impulse to grab ahold of something, to anchor myself, to find something to stand on or lean against to steady myself, but there was nothing there to hold onto.

Did it matter? I mean, fuck, was there anything to steady?

Is it that I’m truly nothing with awareness, or was it only that my means of feedback had gone haywire, that something had disturbed this fluid mirror I call my mind and I could no longer discern the reflection of my own face despite the fact that it was still there?

I hoped for the second.

I thought to myself that this experience might be giving me a good idea of what schizophrenia or some similar mental disorder is like — assuming my brain didn’t stay like this permanently because the psilocybin triggered some latent psychosis in me or something. I didn’t expect that, but by ruling it out prematurely I feared I might be asking for it.

My remaining comfort throughout the experience was that my mind would have settled and my feedback would return after I got some sleep and woke up the following morning. I just wanted to wake back up as me. Or the personality I’d formerly identified as me. Whichever. So I was quite relieved when all was back to the familiar abnormal when I awoke.

I don’t believe that what I experienced was egolessness, but it was certainly closer than I had ever been to that state and it certainly felt as if I were on the precipice. I can’t help but wonder if my mind is a mirror as I’ve always assumed or whether it might instead be a portrait painted by the populations of homunculi hidden in the shadows of my psyche. I float along the river of life that stretches betwixt womb and tomb thinking I’m at least rowing, at least having a hand or two in guiding my own vessel, but am I really the captain of this flesh-vessel or just a tug-o-war puppet leader a bit too caught up in his role?

As I continue on with my short meditation sessions, following the breath for fifteen minutes every day before leaving for work, indifferent to loose thoughts running through my mind and quick to disengage with ones I get mindlessly absorbed in and return to the sensations of air going in and out through my nostrils, I can’t help but wonder if there really is a true face behind that inner eye. All these thoughts I try to witness from a third person point of view: are they obscuring my identity, or do they constitute layers of a thick mask hiding a big, bleak, no one?