A counterblaste to misanthropy

shaun L

Member
I think that the misanthropic strand to K-punk's thought is problematic and that misanthropes occupy a similar position to lawyers in the K-punk cosmology... I've met 'good' individual misanthropes - but they are a negative influence structurally.... I have to disentangle the misanthropy from the cold rationalist program before I can engage with his thinking.

Here are my objections to misanthropy:
1) The focus on humans as a source of suffering creates/promotes/reinforces an unwelcome dualism... initially at the species level -- mankind vs the non human universe... but usually this split is continued into the individual -- linguistic rational self vs unthinking flesh machine. ... and perhaps outwards as well so that there is an opposition between life and nullity.
In all of these cases an integral part of our embodied experience is designated negative. This inflicts two injuries upon us:
a) our egoless unity is oedipalised and 'selfed-up'
b) we give ourselves the negative portion of this division.

Since this life may be all the experience available to us, why adopt a negative attitude to it? Christianity justifies its anti-body dogma through the positing of an afterlife... which compensates our immortal conciousness for the the lamentable condition of everyday life.... but in the absence of this jehovah controlled paradise why should anyone encourage the formation of life-hating synapses within their brains?

2) How can humanity be described as negative?... humanity's influence on the universe at large is less than the rather ordinary star that our planet orbits. From an ecological perspective, we have messed up our planet... but much less than geological/astronomical events that caused the previous mass extinctions. From a human perspective, humanity is responsible for much of human misery... but this seems to be a dubious foundation for a philosophy- extending a subjective response to life's exigencies into a universal stance.

3) Structurally, misanthropy is tool/symptom of oppression.. it reinforces all of the us/them divisions that allow us to be controlled/deluded, through the promotion of a negative worldview it supports depressive/pliable brain chemistry and this worldview also encourages salvationist delusions.

To (poorly) plagiarise/ paraphrase the writer of Straw Dogs... a dog who attempted to achieve enlightenment through the practice of Buddhism would be a dog that had wasted its life.

So c'mon misanthropes.. dismantle my cheery yay-saying to all of life's horrors.
 

grimly fiendish

Well-known member
shaun L said:
So c'mon misanthropes.. dismantle my cheery yay-saying to all of life's horrors.
i wouldn't dream of doing so. life is but a merry hell.

ultimately it's up to the individual to make the most of it in whatever way they choose. i'm a confimed misanthrope simply because the majority of - but by no means all - the individuals i see appear to spend their lives making things miserable for themselves and even more miserable for everybody else, by dint of capitalist venality/religious craziness/generally being twats, to pick just three of many, many examples.

in many ways i'm a cheerful and optimistic person, if prone to occasional bouts of melancholy. i can see localised reasons to be cheerful, but i can't extend that optimism to humanity at large. we're f***ed, and the reason we're f***ed is because we're c***s.

:D (laughing all the way to the void)
 

jenks

thread death
When i read the kpunk blast i must admit to being taken aback, i puzzled over my response over the weekend and i think in the end my problem with it is not so much the misanthropy which i can see (yet not agree with) but the 'cold rationalist' part.
in other words i can't see how i remove me from my thoughts. this attempt at objectivity is bound to fail isn't, after all i create these thoughts of objectivity?
it is interesting that this kpunk guy gets more personal comments than anybody on this list yet he is the one who is proposing a loss of self/body in creating a proposition (sorry if i've simplified it beyond all recognition).
i can't subscribe to the 'coldness' of this brand of rationality it denies too much (and that probably makes me anthro-centred but so be it), nor this lauding of science over thought, as if,if we throw enough science at it we'll explain it all.
it puts me in mind of Blake: "He who sees the Ratio only sees himself" ( i think, i don't have the text to hand)
 

Woebot

Administrator
Staff member
luka said:
i agree that blake is a good stick to beat mark with.
ive got the raw material together to do a likkle anti- cold reationalist piece of my own. not that mark needs any more strife!!!! in case you're wondering that's why he's reluctant to show up here these days (saw him on saturday night)

oh and really strangely he and nina bumped into catherine taking my babies to see the deer in stoke newington, and mark helped them all into the park!!! what were the chances of that?
 

john eden

male pale and stale
WOEBOT said:
in case you're wondering that's why he's reluctant to show up here these days (saw him on saturday night)
Has he taken it all personally? :confused:

I am completely confused by that - and I mean that genuinely, without my k-punk baiting hat on?!
 

jenks

thread death
if we're being coldly rational, i must say it wasn't kpunk (of whom i know nothing, including how to pronounce his name - like kerplunk without the l? and why everyone is so in awe of him to such an extent that his krazy k spelling is adopted by all and sundry - got me doing it now) that i was beating with a blake stick but the ideas proposed ;)
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Oh and my tuppence on misanthropy is that it seems a bit limiting to rule out the whole species in one go.

People are still capable of great acts of kindness or solidarity despite living under a completely dehumanising oppressive system which instructs them to be entirely self-serving at every opportunity.

Countless examples in my life have made me a long term optimist and a short term pessimist...
 
The babies were very sweet indeed, Woebot! As were the deer, and the squirrel.....

But to the anthropos...I thought the misanthropy thing was just strategic in one sense - i.e. sort out the various basic species-limitations so you don't get too bothered or confused when they (and you) do initially incomprehensible things....it's about working out what is possible, given certain human-all-too-human constraints (an easily broken body (sigh), the irritating yet blissful desire to sleep and eat and all that).

It's not about hating everyone in a petty, pathological sense - surely you like people better a. when you don't expect more of them than is possible and b. when you see what they've done with their lives and thought and so on given all the boring weird shared sapient monkey things that you can't escape so long as you're breathing.....mind you, I'm just into how thought can be immortal and infinite, and science-forming faculties, and ratio and egalitarian politics, and reading and systems...all of which makes me a very twisted primate indeed...!

I do like Blake too tho :D
 
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grimly fiendish

Well-known member
john eden said:
Oh and my tuppence on misanthropy is that it seems a bit limiting to rule out the whole species in one go.
but as a species - ie as a collective entity rather than as a collection of individuals - we serve no purpose whatsoever. i mean, bloody vegetation has more purpose than we do. my point has always been this: if i was told humankind was going to become extinct tomorrow - in its entirety, every last one of us, including me - i would not give a fuck.

however, if i was told that only certain sections of humankind were going to become extinct/suffer greatly, i like to think i'd do everything in my power to prevent that.

and there's the rub: such great suffering is happening, all over the world, and i'm doing very little about it. instead i'm propping up western ka ... er, capitalism and reaping the benefits. so i'm not even a pointless/purposeless being; i'm actively parastical and destructive.

i mean. is "but we might get better" really a justification for me to embrace humankind?

Countless examples in my life have made me a long term optimist and a short term pessimist...
heh, i guess i'm the exact opposite.
 

shaun L

Member
Body to body.

My main problem with the cold rationalist critique of bio life is not the rationalism... but the absence of rationality. Noting the limitations of flesh and developing tech/routines to 'overcome' those limitations would be the rational response to the embodied life. Describing human life as that of 'a tortured monkey in hell' , whilst satisfying the same pleasure centres as early Swans is hardly a coldly emotionless appraisal of the human condition.... I suppose the Buddhist/Christian response to this would be 'only thru the recognition of life's unsatisfactory nature can humans be free'. However, I think that is a sick joke created by our conciousness's capacity to refer to itself in the third person.
 

johneffay

Well-known member
infinite thought said:
But to the anthropos...I thought the misanthropy thing was just strategic in one sense - i.e. sort out the various basic species-limitations so you don't get too bothered or confused when they (and you) do initially incomprehensible things....it's about working out what is possible, given certain human-all-too-human constraints (an easily broken body (sigh), the irritating yet blissful desire to sleep and eat and all that).
How exactly does misanthropy function as a sorting device for species-limitations, or anything else for that matter? Come to that, assuming that I sort out the species-limitations, why should that make me hate the species?

It would be about as rational for me to hate humans because they are constrained by the need to eat and sleep, as it would be for me to hate my dog because he can't answer the telephone.

surely you like people better a. when you don't expect more of them than is possible and b. when you see what they've done with their lives and thought and so on given all the boring weird shared sapient monkey things that you can't escape so long as you're breathing.....
So what you're basically saying is that it's better to have a low opinion of people because then they don't disappoint you?
 
Hi effay,

Well, perhaps I shouldn’t still call it misanthropy…in a way it’s just the precondition for thinking the opposite, like wot John Eden said:

People are still capable of great acts of kindness or solidarity despite living under a completely dehumanising oppressive system which instructs them to be entirely self-serving at every opportunity.

Exactly….man is everywhere in chains, some imposed, some assumed, some intractable….but that’s just the starting point, not the final jumping-off point for ‘adult’ cynicism and idealistic disappointment……

When you say this:

So what you're basically saying is that it's better to have a low opinion of people because then they don't disappoint you?

That’s dead right, but it’s not the whole story. The second bit should be that not only do they not disappoint me (and I don’t ‘disappoint’ myself, despite repeated twattish behaviour)….but that they also surprise me. In a good way.

Surely all I’m saying is just that some kind of materialism is the precondition for liking people, despite all the common things that make being human unpleasant (and I’m perfectly prepared to accept that not everyone finds it thus and so. I don’t have a good argument for why some people can more easily accept physical pain, sickness, PMT, misery, guilt, remorse than others). Isn’t it worse when you start off thinking that people are great and capable of everything that you end up made miserable by failure? S’like the La Mettrie thing:

"Do you know why I still have some respect for men? Because I seriously believe them to be machines. If I believed the opposite hypothesis, I know few of them with whom I would wish to associate."

It’s not a petty, weasal-eyed kind of misanthropy, but the attempt to think reasonably about what a person (or body, if you want!) can do….I’m surprised you didn’t like what I said – I got most of this stuff from you. Of course, I could have totally gotten the whole thing fucked-up and backwards, you’ll have to tell me.

And, besides, I do hate your dog because he can't answer the telephone - you never bloody get to it in time!
 

johneffay

Well-known member
infinite thought said:
It’s not a petty, weasal-eyed kind of misanthropy, but the attempt to think reasonably about what a person (or body, if you want!) can do….I’m surprised you didn’t like what I said – I got most of this stuff from you. Of course, I could have totally gotten the whole thing fucked-up and backwards, you’ll have to tell me.
I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiments, what I disagree with is that they in any way accord with a misanthropic worldview. To have a low opinion of whatever human traits or abilities you fancy is not the same thing as actively disliking everybody with those traits or abilities.

Genuinely misanthropic people either kill themselves, other people, or drone on about defying the will by doing fuck-all like Schopenhauer. Any purportedly misanthropic argument which claims to hate the species but not individuals within that species is about as philosophically sound as the one which says that "all Blacks are evil thieving bastards, except for Frank Bruno, obviously; oh and that guy down the pub; and Pete who I work with, etc. etc."
 
Tee hee!..you and your pagan irrational-rationalism....

But it's not a question of making exceptions, like your racialist example...we're <i>all</i> uglee animals in various ways....but it's (futhermore) the weird (universal) capacity to reason and that which makes us cool. Potentially. Yeah. But will stop calling it misanthropy if it's not working....

Will just say that everyone I ever knew who killed themselves did it because they thought they weren't worthy, and not because they hated everyone else....but this is probably not a great topic to start on...

Anyway, have to go to the pub now, as all flesh is grass and I must water it.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
This stuff about expectations reminds me of something Terence McKenna said when me and Gyrus interviewed him:

Well, I had a professor once who said if you think of human beings as angels, it's a shit of a scene. If you think of people as apes - it's the most astonishing accomplishment you've ever laid eyes on.
I can't help feeling that K-Punk's stuff about escaping the human OS and all that is coming from a perspective where he already has high expecations of humanity and expects them to be angels. Is it that disappointment which leads to misanthropy?

Personally I'm down wid my monkey massif... and we're doing OK, considering!
 

Penfold

Member
Poirot called all of the guests into the drawing-room and...

"counterblaste"?
"lambaste"?
Rumbled, foul-spelling resentocratic troll.
 

shaun L

Member
naah mate, I'm no dyslexo troll... Counterblaste is as in 'counterblaste to tobacco' the King James anti smoking pamphlet... I haven't got enough life to squander it on weak parodies of talented writers :rolleyes:
 

grimly fiendish

Well-known member
so, let me get this right. if i break into my neighbour's house and steal his wife/dinner/stereo, or crap all over his floor, or decide to swing about from the light fittings making grunting noises then that's ok because i used to be an ape?

reductio ad absurdum, i know ... but then so is the whole argument propounded by terence mckenna.

most humans have the mental capacity to act in a manner at least approaching angelic; to strive for perfection even if we can't necessarily achieve it. the tragedy is that for a lot of the time the majority of us don't even try. as individuals we should be attempting to transcend the history of the species, not looking to it for excuses.
 
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