From the comments on a previous post. It had a simple expression that please me:
A more perfect hell would still be hell, and there is a legitimate concern that a better future in which hell was less hellish is too remote to be motivating. The scale of a movement is beyond the scale of a human life.
If we emphasize the chemical nature of emotion we must also emphasize the chemical nature of meaning. The dysphoric condition is one in which the world is stripped completely of any meaning at the level of what is felt and intuited. What is a more perfect world in this condition? It is inconceivable, perfectibility being some mythic image of things belonging to a world of grandiosity regarding the qualities of this little ape.
The same problem is presented with joy. It is hard to think of joy as affirmation ever pushing one on to the desire for a more perfect world. The role of amor fati is to have us accept the world as it is, and in fact to love it.
The emotions seem like bad guides for politics, except as sites of manipulation. We have them and they get played. This is part of our puppet-condition, and Ligotti makes this clear in a number of stories.
At any rate, the question of “why should I care?” rears itself up again to block all movement. This time in the guise of the realization that immediatism-localism fails, while the futural realization of movement building has nothing to do with me. If you aren’t motivated by abstractions and hypotheticals like saving the environment for future generations, if you don’t care about generations to come but who do not exist, it’s pretty difficult to care.
Likely the only answer is a purposeful self-deception: I care about this future because only through caring about this future can I effect the present- my present and the present of those still living. I care about the future as my future and have nothing to do with the absurd demand to bear responsibility for every life that is yet to come.
A theoretical antinatalism that says it is wrong to invoke the future abstracted from our present. The future is a feedback loop and nothing more.
The potentially keeps us in the realms of a depressive realism but corrects the failure of that condition which is it’s tendency to be over-confident in assertions about the future.
At least we’d live in hell, instead of the hell in our minds.
I think we should acknowledge that pessimism is temperamental. It’s a question of character. But many utopias exist and the capitulation of utopia as a piece of weaponry in the armoury has simply resulted in a social machinery that increases suffering. The ethics of pessimism, insofar as pessimists have such an ethics, is centred on the reduction of suffering and the dictate not to cause suffering. It is impossible to withdraw from the machinery of suffering, and if it were wouldn’t this just be a turning away? A copping-out. The pessimist is in no way allowed off the hook, unless he is a misanthrope like the guy in The Sunset Limited who hates the others because they remind him of himself.
Of course what makes that film so interesting in the dialectic that goes on between the two characters as essentially the cognitive chatter in the pessimist’s own head. That the pessimist wins the argument means nothing. He merely wins the right to die. And this is the right to end his suffering. He merely reaps the very compassion he repudiates, even as he leaves his “keeper” in tatters.
A final comment: the idea that pessimistic views and optimistic views are chemical and so deserve no more weight one than the other is precisely the problem I have been floating around here.
For us who say such neurologically reductionist things- what is there to drive a person to value or to do *anything*. It is all chemicals. Everything loses its coherence and depression sets in. A structure is required and there are visions proffered: left and right; progressive and reactionary. One dreams of an integration but doubts the possibility.
A more perfect world? What is that. A world without suffering. This means one of two things: a world in which the capacity to suffer has been overcome, or a world in which there are no humans. Either insane transhumanism or an equally insane engineered extinction. My own favourite insanity is a combination of these. But come on, let’s admit it these are all insane!
A more perfect world belongs to people full of visions and dreams they cannot fully distinguish from reality. The condition of politics is psychosis. So is that our job? Do we accept our lunacy? Okay. Yes. We’re madmen! Our voices conjure realities out of the materials of hell!
It has nothing to do with perfection or perfectibility.