*Useful* Thoughts

~ Reality is a tableau of variables; a manifestation of emergent pandemonium, a storming space of awaiting apocalypses (defined as: a time of crisis and change, of hidden truths revealed, of revelations). Events and experiences invade us and change us; we are influenced by stimuli in the form of conversations held and people presenced. In their actions unto us and our reciprocations unto them, we are revealed and reflected before the community of those we interact with. In action, our hearts blast or still or flutter; continuously we react from a past full of memories. We watch ourselves as we go. We judge at every stage within the scenarios of our life, for before, during, and after — every little thing exists as thoughts. Whether we ask for them or not, we are thinking, thinking, thinking throughout. We are thinking, we are acting, we are reacting, no matter to the singular utility (defined as: the state or quality of being useful, effective, efficacious) of every motion. So often, we are not in control, not as much as we wish to be. And so we are met with dissension and tragedy, suffering and doubt, misunderstandings and misses. We return from the tableau with rumination in our head and regret in our hearts. And constant rumination is, of course, one of the main symptoms of depression.

Reality depresses us, if it doesn’t destroy us entirely.

Point: Reality does not appear to us to be a choice.

Counterpoint: Our thoughts, however, can be chosen. Our actions are ‘always’ a choice. Our attitude and our responses to the world around us are within our control. Using them, together, consciously, we can begin to forge new realities for ourselves, and maybe even for those around us. As such, crafting the component pieces of our ruminating thoughts in conjunction with our actions in practice to create a new reality is within our reach. The creation of a better reality lies within our little hands. Our inner, meta-reality — the one that we can act out and live within, given resolution, discipline and repetition in our life’s styling — is a choice.

Why, then — after the conceiving of this framework and working at it in practice to instill it in your life — choose the darkness? Why choose rumination leading onward into the abyss…?

Aside from the fact that we may be used to our suffering, or that we don’t know anything else or want anything more … the darkness might just be rational. Seeing the world as it is, seeing our reality and the truthful conditions of our environments, near and far, with clear, assessing eyes for what ultimately matters (life over death, flourishing over suffering, light over dark) — what if what we see before us brings on the darkness with all of the warranted, justified, rationality of a real, Real reality-based vision? What if the darkness is the Truth? With a gaze unaverted, we all see the crisis of consciousness, the unnecessary suffering on a global scale, both chaotically compelled from forces of nature beyond us and consciously ordered by pathological actors inside of systems with primary interests counter to life, to flourishing, to the light, to the long-term… the ‘misery, conflict, destructive brutality, aggression, and so on…’ We cannot help but see the irreversibility of ecological collapse, the revolutionary seeds of rising income inequality and assiduously hoarded capital to no discernible end, the fulcrum death-compact of nuclear proliferation ever patient, waiting in the wings for a slip

What ground within this reality remains that is not at least partially shorn of its life-affirming light? The apocalypse is now, already here, among us, changing us, regressing our world, reverberating outward, endlessly… To the eyes of the rationalist, an apocalyptic nihilism is the default hypothesis that must be rejected with evidence painstakingly gathered to the contrary. Despair becomes rational when we take the world into our heart in its wholeness and we future-cast today into perpetuity and bear witness to those rising, extinctive fires reflecting off our careful, cosmic lense… Some formulation of that incalculable, inevitable darkness at the end of our species’ play upon the stage of life is quite rational, whether we like it or not. No matter to our actions from this moment hence, science — our rational avatar-paragon — tells us our Sun will self-annihilate in a matter of aeons… And consciously or not, we hold no higher valuation than ‘rationalism’ — rational thinking and rational acting being the basis for our whole society, our economy, our sciences and our best decision-making methodologies. Even if we cannot live up to pure rationalism and its reality-based tenets of self-interest melded alongside collective cooperation, we certainly strive to. Reason is our enlightened, postmodern God… that is nevertheless inviolately indifferent to our worldly machinations. 

Speaking personally, Cold Hardcore Rationalism is my default setting. I need evidence, I need to see the truth of the matter — good, bad, or ugly — before I can go forth. This includes the micro and macro sense. I absolutely want to understand everything about my reality. Consistently, I seek to understand the world around me, both the efficacy of my personal relationships and the continuous effects of the systems I live within. In order to think and act at all with any semblance of alacrity, sovereignty, passion, I do my due diligence. Paradoxically, I must have this baseline awareness, of self and environment and the companionships therein, even as an authentic evaluation of these aspects of my reality constantly escapes me. I develop theories about how to live my life, even as I try to live it. I analyze systems and converse with others about how we are perpetuating the problems that are, to my eye, so damn easy to see and begin to understand, if not diagnose of their potential solutions and necessary resolutions borne with the nascent stirrings of collective social or democratic force … even as I make no movement toward such ends beyond the seat of my pants.

I wish to act, even as I do nothing. I wish to do anything, even as I sit and contemplate, and think, and ruminate on all that has past, all that has gone wrong with me and my world, all that has blinked into the pathological, inevitable darkness I unconsciously continue to theorize as the only possible reality left… I decry hypocrisy and hopelessness and so vehemently renounce nihilism in every respect … even as I presage their unfortunate, insoluble logic with my (anti-)thoughts and (in)actions both.

Cloud, Final Fantasy VII

It is all neurosis; it is likely a psychosis. I think it is one most can relate to, on some level. Though my so-called ‘reasoned’ reality I create is not The Real — is it as close as I can manage it to be.

By design, I wield a worldview weighted with as much Truth as I can muster. The true rationalist must not rest in this regard, unto an eternal restlessness… and even unto the death(?)

Ah, and there is a breakthrough, perhaps. I want a rationalist understanding of every aspect of my reality and the conditions of the realms I inhabit — but do I need it? Instinctively, I always turn to reason; but does it always serve me? There is a choice I am making to think in this way. If this reasoned darkness immobilizes me, spiraling me into fear and psychosis and chaotic action that spirals me further and further yet, unto an inevitable doom — then the Cold Hardcore Utility of such action in seeking it and taking it into my heart and mind is null, it is inverse to everything that Rationalism stands for; it bears the destructive potential of bringing about an end to the game.

According to Enlightenment rationalist Baruch Spinoza, it is impossible to commit suicide rationally or freely, or be destructive unto yourself of your own volition. He argued that external forces in the world could take over our hearts and minds, and in their working upon us from the outside-in, only then could a Man bring about their own end…

“If something is acting contrary to its own interests, then it has been overtaken by forces external to it.”

~ Spinoza

Thusly ~ The Cold Rational Truth of this {world} and its long-term fate may not always coincide with the kinds of ‘truth’ that are working in the here and now to keep {me} alive and well.

Rationally, mindfully, ethically— I understand that thoughts and actions should be considered in regard to their ultimate utility. Positive ones should be progressed and capitalized upon; negative ones should be marked without judgment or significant distress, or spurred on to produce rectifying behaviors (Ha! So easy). In meditation or theorycrafting, we must ask ourselves: ‘Are these thoughts useful?’ / ‘Are these thoughts helpful, or merely trapping me in a spiral of needless personal suffering?’ I understand that one cannot resolve distressful thinking with more mere thinking. We are physical beings, we are bodies as much as minds. You have to submit yourself to action, and begin the recursive game of [theorization (THINKING) > hypothesis (THINKING²) > experimentation (ACTION!) > review & report (thinking..) >> new theorization] … Theories and experiments must go hand in hand in order to advance yourself within reality; neither can stand alone, for thinking by itself spirals to the aforementioned darkness, and action by itself is anathema to the rationalist’s credo.

Not unlike the scientific method, the rationalist actor’s course must be rigorous, disciplined, and scheduled with continuity for the realization of better and better theory/action in tandem.

Ethics, and its at-times non-relationship to the rational or inversion of it, as we take it on for our decisions within our systematized, status quo models for judgment (i.e. globalized neoliberal capitalism), is another isolate variable inside of the configuration of theory and action. It goes without saying that every theory and every action must be considered with regard to its consequences to life and future human/animal/environmental well-being on an individual and collective scale… and sometimes the ethical imperative will trump the rational one, rightfully so when the component pieces of this equation of {life + flourishing + light} are on the line. Rational actors must also be responsible ones, especially when wielding power. Though the calculus is more challenging and less clear – to my mind – ethics is the most crucial variable within any rationalist’s formulae. And in order to hold any water at all, ethics must be put into practice, it must be self-aware and based in actionable principles. Ethical action is individual as well as collective, and we must all do our part to create a world that we can be proud of – that values life, and the future of life, above all else…

~ In all these ways, it is how we live — and not mere consistency, or the strict adherence to our beloved Cold Hard Rationalism or to the Philosophies we wield or the Systems we live under — that truly matters.

I KNOW this is how it should work; I understand that we must contextualize our thoughts into the world through actions, and then listen, learn, and contemplate from Real-life feedback, in order to stave off the mental/(mortal) chain of consequences of rumination, depression, and eventually, psychosis. I readily comprehend that philosophy must turn to action, lest it remain inert, and useless.

I understand ALL of this, rationally speaking. I am even mindful of it. It is undoubtedly part of my conscious reality. 

But do I do it? … No, I do not. Though I try, I am ever caught in the web of spirals… I want my Truth, I grasp for the Real, consequences be damned. As a result, I theorize unto no foreseeable end, foregoing real-life action along any particular road, simply because it is easier (and safer). And I am hard-pressed to ever avert my eyes or change my thinking to meld to some singularly personal meta-reality or metamodernistic styling (as much as I might wish for it, in theory…) I write all this out because I cannot seem to live it as of yet. 

Alas, try as I might, I theorize here this latest spiral in as concisely — rationally — self-persuasive terms that I can think of:

What are the kinds of thoughts that will not lead to death, suffering, and darkness? ~ Utterly disregarding reality or rationalism or what I want, if only temporarily, those answering thoughts should be engaged upon with further theory and coming actions — for those are the only kinds of thoughts that are *useful.*

To reason any other way ~ leading unto the darkness ~ would, of course, be irrational. ~