Friday, October 29, 2021

On Medium: Technopower and Strange Salvation in “Dune”

Here's an article on how "Dune" suggests that the secret of entheogenic creativity might have to rescue us from the technowizardry of our demonic, superhuman future worlds.


  1. Hi, I hope you have been in the pink of health. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the relatively recent revelation that Adam Lanza, the school shooter, was influenced by pessimistic views such as antinatalism. He apparently listened to Inmendham and his first video was called "My Antinatalism":

    He also apparently listened to Derivedenergy, the infamous efilist YouTuber who was somewhat popular in pertinent circles a long time ago. I believe that he is no more. Here's a video of his about his "Operation Doomsday" and "LAHAs" (Life-Affirming Human Animals):

    When you look at all this, do you believe that these nihilistic/pessimistic views have the potential to cause serious harm? I've always seen efilism as more of a political ideology than a "philosophy", but the fact that it indirectly/directly influenced a killer is even more concerning, at least in my opinion. At the broader level, I think this demonstrates the need to truly grasp the value of a meaningful life and not allow the shallow positivity culture that pervades the media to chip away at the genuinely valuable things of life such as love, beauty, and growth.

    I've also seen efilists (who are mostly hedonists) claim that there's no value in "transcending suffering", since we only suffer at the moment in order to avoid greater psychological suffering in the future. In other words, they believe that "growth" is a necessity, not something that's overall positive, since that suffering wasn't "needed" before a person existed. My response would be (in a hedonistic framework, obviously) that the fact that we can transcend our suffering doesn't mean that we are calling the suffering good; it means that we are suggesting that one can surpass even the most devastating moments and gain happiness. I've seen (and experienced) plenty of moments like that, where a nice conversation with a loved one has sufficed to temper the excruciating pain of a broken leg.  Additionally, it doesn't seem to make much sense that there isn't any need in the void, since that lack of need doesn't benefit anybody, because there is nobody who exists in that state of affairs.

    This also links to my final point: the Omelas question. Many pessimists say that people who affirm life are like the people of Omelas who made the child suffer for the sake of their own happiness. What do you think about this? Personally, I have numerous problems with this analogy. Firstly, unlike Omelas, the world isn't divided into perfectly happy and sad people. Many well-off individuals can become depressed, and many suffering people can be happy. Secondly, unlike Omelas, people (not all, at least) aren't deriving their happiness from the suffering of others. You don't need to torture someone in order to love somebody else. Additionally, it isn't as if there's a single person who's doomed to suffer for eternity whilst everybody merely looks on (like Omelas). In our world, many people try to help others in order to alleviate their suffering. I have myself seen countless examples of people pretty much sacrificing their entire lives for the sake of their loved ones, such as this case:

    The efilist would obviously argue that they only did so to fulfill their desires, but the point still stands—it's unfair to suggest that our world is the exact same as Le Guin's story.

    I shall be grateful for your perspicacious views on this.

    As always, I hope that you have a wonderful day!

    1. No, there are four much more decisive factors in mass shootings: mental illness, youth, maleness, and the easy public availability of guns. Highly pessimistic philosophy may be largely consistent with mass murder, but if a murderer turns to that philosophy, that would be a symptom rather than the cause of the mentality that kills innocent strangers.

      Have a look at the mass murders in the US and you'll see they overwhelmingly have those four factors in common, and those are the more likely causes, especially mental illness and the public availability of guns. Lanza, too, was reportedly mentally ill, and like most mass shooters he was in his early twenties.

      We can ask whether pessimistic philosophy causes mental illness. I'd suspect that antinatalists in general might be disproportionately mentally ill. I've said before that Inmendham seems mentally ill. Which is the cause and which is the effect? Certainly, a deep sense of life's absurdity is consistent with depression, but can it cause depression or any serious mental illness? I don't know, of course, but I doubt it. These illnesses seem to have physiological causes. Mind you, pessimistic philosophy might exacerbate a mental illness or provide the catalyst for a mass shooting, but anything else might push a mentally disturbed person over the edge too, including violent video games, violence on the nightly news, a poem the twisted person recently read, and so on. There's no accounting for that.

      I haven't read that book about Omelas, but I think a pessimist might point out that, although the world isn't as cleanly divided as the folks in the story, First World pleasures and wealth nevertheless may depend on Third World struggles and labour, not to mention the suffering of animals. The thought experiment is a test of utilitarianism, and I don't subscribe to that moral philosophy as a complete picture.

    2. Thanks for the reply. I don't think that the Omelas question is much of a problem for the logical side of utilitarianism, but it certainly has emotional weight, which is why I had brought intentions into consideration.

      I think that there's a constructive side of pessimism, the side people like you represent. It exhorts people to look beyond their biases and contribute towards making the world a better place. On the other hand, there's a pessimism that suggests that harming billions of people is a moral imperative and arbitrary value judgements (wrt the non-identity problem and the value of pleasure) are justified. Of course, mental illness is fuelled by many factors, but I doubt that ideas such as "destroying everything is good" help the matters.

    3. Also, and this is obviously a thought experiment, isn't it clear that if an efilist can ensure total "efficiency" (Inmendham's favourite term) in elimination, would it not be clear that their philosophy was the cause of their actions? Amanda has already said that she is willing to "skin people alive" if that "prevented suffering".
      (Check out the video on YouTube made by Steve Godfrey called "When the mask slips". Whilst the genesis of the ideology might be more of a symptom, I think that it can have a potential to turn into a disease itself. I hope that sanity and hope will prevail.

    4. I don't know if it's pessimism that's the problem. Pessimism is an attitude. Misanthropy seems closer to the mark. The total cause of any event is hard to unravel or encompass. This is why parents are fond of teaching their children that if they don't have anything nice to say, they shouldn't say anything. Putting rude or nasty stuff out there may do more harm than good. This was also Leo Strauss's point about how knowledge was often hidden behind noble lies in the ancient world, because the truth itself was subversive. The social order thrives on feel-good lies.

      But the modern philosophical impulse is to spill the beans, to tell the full truth and let the world sort it out. The problem isn't that some writers or content creators are mean, but that the natural facts are often unpleasant, so those who aren't ready to philosophize should steer clear.

      The question is whether so-called efilists are doing justice to the natural facts, or whether instead their philosophy is mainly a mask for their mental illnesses. I've written against some popular standards of mental health, or at least I've tried to explain how they arise in defense of social norms. But some mental abnormalities aren't revelatory or even helpful to anyone.

    5. Benatar and most efilists like to call their arguments "philanthropic" arguments, since they apparently stem from a concern for people, rather than hatred. I wonder what role excessive attachment and unrealistic expectations plays in their descent towards the pit. But I did find their "philanthropic" characteristics strange, since they also seem to think most people are evil, ignorant, and selfish. They are concerned with victims, but also believe that most people are perpetrators. Strange stuff.

    6. Strange indeed. And Orwellian. It's like the Nazis calling themselves "National Socialists." Talk is cheap.