Friday, May 25, 2018

Is Infamous YouTube Pessimist “Inmendham” Hero or Villain?

Dateline: NEW JERSEY—The YouTuber known as Gary “Inmendham” has tormented viewers since 2007, by uploading thousands of hostile, deranged videos to that platform, making a bizarre philosophical case against the continuation of life on the basis of what he calls the preciousness of life. 

YouTube is known mostly as a playground for cute, young people to prance and preen, but the website is also part of the so-called Intellectual Dark Web on which cynics and misanthropes proffer their subversive philosophies.

There’s an urban legend that Matthew McConaughey’s character Rust Cohle, from Season One of True Detective was based on the surly, scornful, long-haired Inmendham.

At any rate, Gary argues in over four thousand videos—many of which are well over an hour long—that the evolution of life is a system for torturing animals, including us, and that our excessive suffering is wasted since no good comes from life. Having children only adds victims to this natural system of abuse and exploitation, and thus is wrong.

He calls his philosophy “Efilism” (“Life” spelled backwards), which indicates that his views are more extreme than antinatalism. Antinatalists say that having children is wrong, because the world is harsh and no one consents to being born, but the point of Efilism is that life generally ought to be reversed (like the word) or ended, which is to say destroyed.

Paradoxically, this is supposed to be because the ability to feel pleasure and pain is the most precious thing in the world; in Gary’s words, living things are “precious commodities controlled by crude forces.” Yet in practice, pain always outweighs pleasure, according to Gary, and so the ideal would be for life to be painlessly eradicated, leaving the universe with no more victims to torture.

Instead of pitying all living things or feeling sad about their plight, however, Gary is infamous for his sadistic style of viciously insulting and berating everyone who disagrees with him. Unlike the sorrowful and philosophical Cohle character or a detached and tranquil Buddhist monk, Gary spews invective at everyone from meat-eaters to those who defend the continuation of our species through procreation.

Many YouTubers have attempted to explain the Inmendham phenomenon.

Rust Cohle
One whose nickname is Lazyboy Filosopher and who has suffered Inmendham’s wrath said, “He’s like a bitter, unhinged hippie. His hostility, though, is part of a tough-guy act. When he deigns to argue, as opposed to shouting insults like a psychotic hobo, he always does so with maximum smugness and condescension, accusing those who approve of life of being ‘too insanely stupid’ to understand the brilliant and self-evident revelations from the saintly and wise Inmendham.

“But really Gary’s possibly the world’s biggest pussy. I mean, here’s a guy who honestly believes that because no one should have to suck it up even for two minutes, all life ought to go extinct. Did the little girl drop her lollipop? That alone proves that the world’s unfair and rigged against us in the end, which means for Gary that it’s wrong to accept life under such conditions. Thus, Gary’s living proof that radical left-wingers can be just as insane and belligerent as the far-right fringe.”

Yet whereas environmentalists advocate the preservation of natural environments to provide for a sustainable way of life, Gary argues that animals are no better than people, that all living things are “robots” caught up in a cruel, wasteful, and irrational system, and that ultimately we’re obliged not to protect creatures but to destroy them for their own good.

“Inmendham says he only wants to end the badness of suffering,” said Master Intellectual, another critic of this pessimistic philosophy, “and so we ought to kill ourselves and everyone else—if only we could do so painlessly, but we can’t and so actually we ought to just stew in our misery, composing thousands of resentful complaints like Inmendham.

“But if you follow Gary’s utilitarian logic, anything short of supervillainous annihilation of all life should nevertheless be a cop-out for him. Suppose a cartoon supervillain like Thanos or Dr. Doom comes along and tortures and kills all creatures on Earth, fulfilling some ‘evil’ scheme. Add up all of that suffering the villain causes and compare it to the suffering that would have occurred if all of those creatures would have gone on perpetuating some variety of tortured species for perhaps hundreds of millions of years of future evolution, until perhaps the sun dies and engulfs our planet. Obviously the latter quantity of pain must be orders of magnitude greater than the former one, so Gary’s grotesque philosophy enjoins him to attempt to become a supervillain and to regard any pain he’d inflict as being for the greater good of terminating the very capacity to suffer.”

On the one hand, Gary affirms that life is precious: consciousness is self-evidently good in that the feeling of being alive is what matters most to all creatures; we typically defend ourselves because we prefer to live, and that’s because we cherish our conscious states. On the other hand, Gary belittles life, reducing evolution to a squalid game and accusing everyone of being mere bloodthirsty robots or vessels for their genes and of being stupid, insane, or evil precisely for preferring life to death.

“Gary’s Efilist philosophy is incoherent,” said Penniless Sage, yet another of Inmendham’s critics. “If consciousness or the capacity to feel is the only thing of value in the universe, which is allegedly why the world is abominable for mindlessly subjecting conscious beings to hardships, how can the solution be to do the world’s work for it by ending all life? If the ability to feel is so precious, how can one type of feeling, namely pain, be so bad as to outweigh the value of the continuation of conscious life? And if pain is so bad that all life ought to end to prevent more of this dreaded mental state, how could pain be a form of that which is most good, of the awareness of being alive? How can the capacity to feel in general be good, but one type of feeling be overwhelmingly bad?”

Master Intellectual compares this to the theological problem of freewill. In the Christian tradition, God is supposed to allow suffering to occur because ultimately suffering is a consequence of freewill, and the creation of freedom is more important than the evil that ensues from some of our choices.  

“The theologian’s problem is that maybe freewill isn’t so great, after all, if it produces things like the Holocaust," said Master Intellectual. "But if human freewill isn’t sacred, we’re in danger of losing our right to life, in which case there would be nothing essentially wrong even with mass murder.

“Likewise, Inmendham’s in the precarious position of declaring—absurdly—that life is so precious, that life ought to end. It’s like he’s a villain pretending to adopt the superhero’s values. He’s insisting, ‘I agree with you, Superman: life is the greatest thing in the universe. Alas, your logic fails you since far from protecting precious creatures, you ought to be helping me, your archenemy, exterminate life! How else to prevent—once and for all—the mistreatment of these very conscious creatures?’

“Of course, exterminating life would be far worse than nature’s mixed stance towards life, since while the world is often unfair or harsh, organic processes are also created and sustained by nature's indifference.

“In any case, what Gary doesn’t understand is that except in extreme cases in which hell is effectively enacted on earth, suffering can be beneficial. For one thing, suffering can approximate a just punishment for wrongdoing. But even if the suffering isn’t deserved, we learn the value of life from suffering. From suffering, we learn what not to do and why we shouldn’t do it. We develop sophisticated virtues such as honour, because of our capacity to overcome obstacles, and we can form complex mental states that mix pleasure and pain, as in bitter-sweetness, nostalgia, or other kinds of pleasure tinged with sorrow. It’s because life is indeed precious that even the worst pain can have some redeeming moral or aesthetic value.”

Most secular philosophers regard the value of conscious states as being subjective and open to interpretation. For example, the Jews who suffered catastrophically during WWII were free to interpret their ordeal as having some higher value. Perhaps God was attempting to teach them a lesson about evil or freewill. Some interpretations of moral value may be more far-fetched than others.

But Gary maintains that all such moralistic interpretations are cowardly fictions. Pain and pleasure, he says, have objective, inherent values: pain is always, forever bad and pleasure is obviously only good. The circumstances are irrelevant, he implies.

Professor of moral philosophy, Julia Whitestone, debated Inmendham on this subject in a livestream format. On that occasion, Miss Whitestone said that our subjective interpretations of events matter because, like any good fiction, they can objectively impact our character and our future mental states. Mind can overcome matter in that respect—which is known in the medical industry as the placebo effect.

Said Miss Whitestone, “If a victim of a Nazi concentration camp manages to interpret his suffering in a way that makes him feel better about the experience, without resorting to self-deception or to psychotic delusions, his suffering becomes a step in a process of personal growth. As Aristotle said, ethical value lies in an interpretation of the story of a whole life, taking the full context into account, not just in some pseudo-calculation of isolated events. Generally speaking, natural life is a beautiful tragedy, not merely a pointless farce.

“For that matter, even if we agree with the environmentalist’s criticism of the so-called good life in Western culture, which is that this way of life depends on unimaginable suffering we inflict on the animals we exterminate or enslave, or on slave labour in poorer countries, the anti-life pessimist has no crystal ball showing that this suffering isn’t likewise a stage in the process of our collective development as a species. 

"We’ve been behaviourally modern only for around 50,000 years. Some species last for millions. And we had to figure out for ourselves how to make sense of our intelligence and our self-awareness, our comparative freedom and creativity, since our emergence on the scene as clever mammals was partly an accident. So if we stumble around and bang into things for some tens of thousands of years in our collective childhood, this barbarism might be compared to that of a child in its terrible twos. Who knows what kind of technological and moral progress we’re capable of hundreds of thousands of years hence? But Inmendham would cut the adventure short, because he’s squeamish or something.

Inmendham responded by shrieking, “You stupid, evil cunt with your ugly-ass nose and your retarded glasses! You’re a fat, ugly skank, your book-learning is fucking crap, and you’ll get what’s coming to you, asshole fuckwad,” before signing off and fleeing the debate.

Gary defends such obnoxious abuse by treating it as shock therapy, as though he means only to rudely awaken his viewers since his philosophical message is horrific.

This defense doesn’t impress Penniless Sage. “If life is horrific,” she said, “then scream in terror. If life is nauseating, vomit in disgust. Fear and disgust aren’t the same as hatred. Inmendham is an angry misanthrope if ever there was one. So what causes his hatred? It can be nothing less than the conviction that someone—or in this case almost everyone—is guilty of malevolence, of evil choices. You don’t hate someone who’s genuinely stupid or mentally ill, since such a person can’t help herself. An evil person like Adolph Hitler—that’s who’s worthy of being hated.

“But if we’re just robots, as Inmendham says, meaning machines that can’t progress beyond our evolutionary programming, none of us chooses to harm others. So there’s no such thing as evil, as any voluntary harming of someone due to ill-will. Freewill would be an illusion and so the rational basis of hatred would be lost.”

“If Inmendham acts like a world-class bully because his medium is his message and he’s trying to teach his viewers, he’s evidently teaching them the wrong lesson. His egregious verbal assaults in his many videos entail that most people are worthy of his hatred, but if that’s so, freewill must be real, in which case we’re free to be good as well as bad; we’d have the potential to progress, contrary to Inmendham’s fatalism.” 

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