by Owen Scrivener
The fraudulent dichotomies of many self-help institutions seem to have bred a wonderful cult of ignorance that is thankfully non-manifest by most of those who share its ideas. Some superficial mess of post-modern feel-good literature on self care have made a lot of unskilled unqualified ‘therapists’ a bed of coin on little more in the ways of PR than the word-of-mouth from their gullible cheer leaders.
Why start an article this way? Because the human experience isn’t simply a shirt-size. It’s a Jackson Pollock painting where every canvas is randomly shaped and proportioned.
Happiness is a selling point. I like feeling happy, so apparently there must be a formula, a means to unlock an untapped reserve of smiles and laughter where every day is golden and the birds are hypnotised by the heavenly voice of Julie Andrews. And admittedly there are those who couldn’t get through a day without a great deal of self-deception in this fashion. I feel for those people, I truly do.
In many ways wearing those rose-tinted spectacles will help you deal with grief, but dowsing for the rivers of joy is no sure-fire way to over-come the negative aspects of reality. Some things just need to be dealt with and they need to be done so without the predatory snake-oil sellers making a buck.
Nature is a harsh mistress. While I mutter and moan over the inconveniences of having to pop my hands out of a blanket to play video-games in bed, a loving lioness is forced to abandon her injured cub as the pride migrates. Nature is the ultimate modifier, a blind means to change that whittles away at the decay.
It is this brutal reality that gave rise to the modern human. It is also the acknowledgement of this force in our cosmos that has given rise to the instruments of actual personal betterment. Medicine. Certainly the placebo will help, as will rain-dancing if the outcome you want is the eventual end of the rain.
It’s strange these hopeful practices continue where neither falsification nor evidence can confirm. What does seem demonstrable are the effects of acknowledging actual problems. Instead of the stagnation of emotional drunkenness there are solutions. And these solutions cannot be met without first coming stuck.
The great trials before our enlightenment were problems. The yay-sayers were actually the uninformed in these circumstances, which is understandable as the implications were deeply spiritual. The cosmos we discovered was far more vast and empty than our clerics lead us to believe.
The reason I avoid using the word realism in this context is that the human experience cannot be denied in allowing discovery. They have an affect on our identities whether we believe them or not. Claiming that we are little more than self modifying, inter-migratory, communicable apes insulted the critics of Darwin. They insisted man was some special static exception forged in the first two books of Genesis, but they were wrong.
There is a problem, and it isn’t doubt. It’s our demonisation of doubt. Doubt is a symptom of genuine curiosity, the expectation that things will not run the way we’ve been told they will. Doubt isn’t an illness, it’s a thirst for negation.
Some of the best inventions are built upon the ground works of doubt. Doubt is a stoke for proactively engaging with reality. If I am told the mechanisms of the entire cosmos run on a single trans-dimentional spinning lollypop I cannot be satisfied with the claim itself, as much as I’d like it to be true. My skepticism prevents me from believing, my cynicism allows me to evaluate the likelihood of its truth by expecting it to be false.
I won’t reduce happiness to the over stimulation of endorphins in the brain, but I will say the contrasts mean nothing without the anchor of cynicism. No, happiness isn’t something that can be, nor should it be artificially self-administered. It should be a sincere echo of genuinely good things. Abundant joy is a drag, and those who think they’ve found it are some of the most annoying, usually middle-class wankers on my Facebook news feed.
Sure this is personal. I have nothing against the can-do’s of the world. I AM one. If anything it gets other annoying micro-managers out of my face. But I see that more as means to get the assertive stuff out of the way so I can get back to being a cynic, which is where all the fun begins.
Singing In The Rain, MGM
2001 A Space Odyssey, MGM, Stanley Kubrick Productions
Mario Kart 8, Nintendo