I wrote another review for this book as I was reading it, but I changed my mind about it. In hindsight, this book is really a very well-written, 500-page highbrow literary version of a Harlequin novel involving all sorts of smutty, smutty extramarital and underaged sexual liaisons. It is 50 Shades of Gray written by a talented, poetic, acclaimed novelist. OMG, just smutty, smutty, smutty with just enough philosophical bullfuckery about the modern age, image, commercialism, feminism, industrialization, commodificationism, and ordinary celebrityism to make you think it’s not ENTIRELY a smutty, literary romance novel. So, with a very brief overview of the ribald, bawdy tales of Rockford Illinois, I’ll get on with my own philosophical musings with just enough about the book to make you think this review is not ENTIRELY my philosophical musings. A model gets her face messed up, desperately trying to continue commodifying her face, she agrees to be part of a website that commodifies the lives of the ordinary and extraordinary. Along the way we get side stories about a 16-year-old who fucks her teacher, a wife who sleeps around behind her husband, some has been high school football jock who turns moribund, and a terrorist.
There are two parts of the human mind, one that we are directly “in control” of and the other that operates without our direct control or even awareness. We like to call these two sides, the conscious, analytical mind versus the unconscious or subconscious instinctive mind.
According to most modern teachings, the conscious mind rules supreme. It is the most powerful and important mind, and it is beleaguered and harassed by the undesirable and destructive, savage, impulsive unconscious mind. Everything we consider good and virtuous lies in the conscious mind, our morality, our character, our compassion, and our intelligence. Everything we consider evil and vile lies in the unconscious mind, immorality, impulsivity, character flaws, aggression, cowardice, and selfishness. In order to be good, virtuous people then, we must be constantly alert and thoughtful at all times, ever vigilant against drifting away, spacing out and letting the evil, unconscious mind take the reins of our body and thoughts. Civilization itself is the achievement of the conscious mind as it triumphs over the savage, unconscious mind. Civilization is what teaches us to utilize and maximize the conscious, analytical mind. When we fail, when we commit atrocities and violence, it is the failure of our conscious minds in controlling our unconscious minds. It is the failure of individual willpower and constant mindfulness. People, like artists, writers, and musicians, who indulge their unconscious minds and go into those artistic trances, are playing with Satan’s fire, the root of all our evil and savage selfish behavior.
This paradigm of the minds is completely wrong. All we need to do is look at animals that lack the conscious, analytical mind to realize that the unconscious, instinctive mind is not in fact selfish, unethical, violent, and destructive. While countless animals are instinctively social like ants and fish, mammals are unique in that we have socially reinforcing behavior and physiology. We receive strong biochemical rewards for social behavior like oxytocin and serotonin. In fact, this may be the biochemical foundation for what we describe as love. Far from being selfish, unethical beings, our entire system of ethics is the product of our unconscious, instinctive minds. In fact, the conscious, analytical mind is actually asocial. It neither releases nor experiences the biochemicals that make us feel warm when we are enjoying a social experience. It simply evaluates the experience coolly. “Aha, I feel good, therefore this must be a good thing to do.” It’s like the autistic Sheldon Cooper.
The problem is not only is the analytical, conscious mind asocial and incapable of feeling or understanding love and compassion, but it is the most self-deluding, confabulating part of our minds. It is constantly receiving information from the other parts of our mind after the fact and then makes the mistake of believing that it in fact made those decisions. (It also happens to be narcissistic with a god complex.) It feels like it is control, when in fact, all it really does is try desperately to explain motive after the fact. You may argue that the analytical, conscious mind must be the smarter and more accurate mind, because it can add two plus two and the unconscious, instinctive mind cannot. It can create a story, learn language, write songs, calculate things out, etc. If it was this deluded deceiver, it would constantly be telling us that 2 + 2 equals F, and the sky is green and the ocean is orange. What you fail to understand is that the conscious, analytical mind cannot tell you a lie. When it tells you a falsity like, you decided consciously to reach out to an apple before your hand moved toward it, it believes the lie it is telling you. It lies not to purposefully deceive you, but rather, it lies to make sense of something it fails to understand correctly. So why does it do this?
The conscious, analytical mind did not evolve into itself out of nothing. Like all our specialized organs, it evolved as an extension of something we already had and then just changed a little. Our teeth, for instance did not suddenly appear as teeth to cut into food. Our teeth first evolved as scales on the outside of our skin, moved inside, and then over time, became more and more useful to cut food before ingesting it. Likewise, our conscious, analytical mind is a slight variation of our unconscious, instinctive minds. In other words, our unconscious, instinctive minds also deceive us. It too has the conceit that it is in control where in fact, it is merely reading the code of DNA it is given. The environment also controls it, as it provides signals to either activate or turn off DNA instructions to our body.
So why the deception? We were not designed to comprehend the true nature of nature, the world around us, the multiverse of multiverses. We were only designed to get a sufficient idea of what is going on around us at our human scale to get through the day relatively unharmed and to pass on our DNA. There may in fact have been intelligent animals that were more designed to understand quantum physics or astronomy, but since this did nothing to help advance their DNA or protect their hide, this type of intelligence faded. What triumphed was an intelligence that made functional albeit technically false assumptions about the world around it. It was a just sufficient enough misunderstanding to get through the day and pass on DNA. For instance, we instinctively feel like the Earth is standing still, and the sun is orbiting around the Earth. This feels right, because we cannot feel ourselves rotating around in an elliptical orbit of the sun. Since it doesn’t hurt us to misunderstand the orbit of the Earth and sun, this feature never faded from our DNA. In fact, the ability to sense motion is critical to understanding how to get away from predators and catch prey. If you looked at the sun and noticed its movement in the sky, and you thought that it was actually still while the Earth was moving, you might also look at a lion in the distance, think it was still, while you were moving away from it. What happens next? The lion is actually moving toward you, and you are not running, so you die, and that odd feature is eliminated from the DNA pool.
Humans instinctively do not understand that things can be in motion without you feeling it, because they are too large to feel it, and gravity and the atmosphere coating the Earth also prevent you from feeling it move in relation to space outside Earth. Only the conscious, analytical mind can accept this, because it uses a standardized set of symbols to represent objects and ideas and a standardized set of rules to understand logic, math, and science. As we apply our more analytical minds to more and more things in nature, we are slowly discovering that most everything we assumed to be real or true wind up actually being illusions and false. In addition to realizing that it is in fact the Earth that is moving around the sun and in fact, the sun is also moving around the galactic center and also the galaxy moving outward from a universal origin, we are also starting to realize that our conception of ourselves, our decisions, our freewill, our understanding of reality, reality itself, are also illusions and false. Just like our understanding or I should saying misunderstanding of motion, we also possess a misunderstanding of our decision-making processes, our individuality, our ego, our freewill, our identities, the solidity of objects, and the fluidity of time and space. But why?
Just like the misunderstanding of motion, we hold these other delusions or misunderstandings, because it helps us get through the day and pass on our DNA, and it doesn’t hurt us to not know the truth. Just like not knowing the Earth rotates around the sun, it doesn’t hurt us that we don’t know that we are not individuals, and objects are not solid mass. But for our functional purposes, we must believe that we are individuals and objects are solid mass, because if someone is throwing a rock at us, we must know that we have the power to move ourselves to get out of the way, that the rock hitting this body will result in pain that we feel, and the rock, despite being mostly space, cannot travel through us harmlessly but rather, its configuration of vibrating energy will do harm to our configuration of vibrating energy.
The key to all this is our DNA. DNA is nothing more than the organic encoding of information, information about how to adapt to our environment with certain behavior or bodily adaptations. In an intimate orchestration with environmental cues, it control us. We might like to think of DNA now as this little monster that drives our behavior, but once again by anthropomorphizing DNA, we create an incorrect understanding of it. It is information. It is information that passes itself on if and only if the behavior and bodily adaptations it creates effectively adapt to its given environment, nothing more, nothing less. It is a long-stream of unconscious thought, the single thought about how to continue adapting to nature, and our thoughts are a simple extension of its thoughts, but for the first time, aware of thinking. We are essentially, an unconscious, natural thought that has become aware of itself after all these billions of years.
Now, you may think, wow, what a huge responsibility. We’re now the foremost extension of a huge, historical thought process, and we have to figure out how to adapt to nature and proliferate. In actuality, we have no choice. We cannot control what has been thought before. We are an extension of what has been thought before. Now, just like arguing that we can veer off course and say 2 plus 2 equals F, you can argue that we can veer off course and destroy humanity and all life. Why should we continue this long thought process of adapting to nature? Why not do something else like jerk off into a bucket for all eternity and not procreate? If you can figure out a way of jerking off into a bucket for all eternity without procreating, then you’re actually still perpetuating the thought of adapting to nature by precluding sexual intercourse for continuing the life of your DNA. Many might argue that humanity is veering off course. We are destroying each other and the planet. This, they argue, is unnatural and destructive.
Nature is inescapable. We cannot be unnatural. We can certainly argue that there are things humans did not create and things humans created, but both are products of nature. What we are effectively doing is actually quite natural. There are two major ways of adaptation to nature. One way is multi-symbiotic collaboration (I made that term up). Most of the bacteria on and inside us are multi-symbiotic collaborators. They benefit from us, and we benefit from them. In fact, without our gut bacteria, we would not be able to break down most food, and we would starve and die. In fact, there is a proto-bacteria with its own DNA living inside our cells that if removed would instantly kill us. But there is also another way of adapting. This is called unilateral competition. You invade an organism or ecosystem, and you are hostile to everything. You attack everything whether you need it as food or not. By upsetting the organism or ecosystem, you weaken the multi-symbiotic collaboration and the system breaks down. As it breaks down, you devour it as it collapses defenseless. The only problem with this is that once you have annihilated the organism or ecosystem, you need to figure out a way to move on to another organism or ecosystem. This is how communicative diseases work. There is also a dormant period that allows you time to sneeze, ejaculate, or shit your way into another victim.
The question here is obvious. Which way should humans operate? So far, it looks like the latter. As such, as we annihilate the planet Earth, we need to figure out how to sneeze, ejaculate, or shit our way on to another distant, habitable planet.
You may argue that this is horrible. Of course, since we have evolved mostly through multi-symbiotic collaboration, we are inherently put off by diseases that kill us and our loved ones, disfiguring them, weakening them, and ultimately killing them. However, it’s all part of nature, and it’s all part of the exact same thought process we are all integrally an extension of. Am I suggesting an amoral or even evil lifestyle? No. I can’t really suggest anything since we’ll just do whatever we were meant to do. Trying to start to live an amoral or evil lifestyle will be like trying to convince ourselves that 2 plus 2 equals F. It will feel fake and unnatural, and that is how we will always tend to go with what we were naturally programmed to do.
Fact is, unilateral competition and multi-symbiotic collaboration are both necessary for life and its extension, sort of a yin and yang. They are both parts of the same thought process. While they may not get along, naturally, they rely on each other. Without the unilateral’s systemic need to migrate to infect new victims, life may not have spread out as well. Our desire to find the technology to inhabit other planets to get the fuck away from the unilaterals on Earth may in fact be a boon for spreading DNA all over the universe. If there were no unilaterals infecting and destroying everything, and we figured out a way to live perfectly harmoniously and perpetually on Earth, why would we care about going off to other planets that may be hostile or dangerous. Or why would we risk developing the technology that could also be turned against us as weapons? Unilaterals create the problems and challenges that make us stronger, more creative, more risk-tolerant, and exploratory. This is not to say that we should applaud them or even tolerate them, as it is simply not in our nature. This would be like us finding infectious diseases completely tolerable and neutral. As multi-symbiotic collaborators, we are simply incapable of tolerating or liking infectious diseases and other unilaterals.
So why do we seem to like and even sometimes glorify unilateral humans? Fact is, ever since agriculture, the ruling class has become unilateral. They have decided not to play nice with other humans or animals but rather to exploit them for all their worth until they became sick or died. Of course, they would never dare admit themselves being unilaterals and maintain the scam of making you think they are one of us, and that they really do care about us and want us to thrive alongside them. That is actually the only way they can live amongst us. But there are many infectious diseases that do not instantly kill their hosts but continue to live off them and do harm to them. We call them parasites.
The problem with the ruling class is that they are a dormant disease waiting to turn into a lethal infection. Once we have AI robots capable of replacing most all human labor, they will no longer have any need for the masses. The masses are a huge liability, using huge quantities of limited natural resources while a constant threat to the lives of the ruling class. It is without doubt that once AI robot technology is sufficiently mature, the ruling class will have no qualms about the mass eradication of their host. Just wait for it.
While both systems work off each other, we cannot help but to view unilaterals as fundamentally different and evil, because we view them through our lens as multi-symbiotic collaborators. However, through their lens, they view us as victims, as something just as abhorrent as evil, and that is weak, inferior, and too attached to one another. In their mind, good is being aggressive, exploitative, and ruthless. They have no problem attacking someone who is hurt or down, in fact, they find it abhorrent that you would not attack a weak and injured target. This is the whole purpose of their existence, to infect others, weaken them, destroy you defenses, poison your food supply, and then devour them. Of course, to us, this is sociopathic, but we certainly accept these types running our corporations, our government, and our economy. The greatest weakness of multi-symbiotic collaborators is that they inherently assume everyone else is a multi-symbiotic collaborator. It is this instinctive trust that actually makes them such great symbiotics. So it actually takes a bit of a unilateral to identify and out another unilateral. “Dude, WTF, you’re sleeping with a unilateral!” “You just hired a unilateral to run this company into the ground!” How would you know? “I’m a bit of one!”
But just as symbiotics can have a little unilateral in them, unilaterals can also have a little multi-symbiotics in them, and this is how they hide amongst us, just like some bacteria or viruses can pretend to be harmless, like some spiders can actually kill and carry an ant on their backs to avoid being attacked by other ants. But fact is, since humans share DNA, we are all capable of being either unilaterals or symbiotics. We all have it in us and it’s more like a switch on a spectrum than a permanent part of our character. What switches it on or off is like a videogame where you become a certain color in a grid if you are surrounded by three or more of the same colored players. We mirror and mimic those around us, so if a sufficient number of us find either unilateral or symbiotic behavior rewarding, it spreads like an infection. But this is also too simplistic. Each society could also carry a certain number of symbiotics or unilaterals in reserve as needed. For instance, unilaterals can better infiltrate a group of symbiotics if they approached them first with their symbiotics. Likewise, a majority symbiotic group could defend itself better if its periphery were protected with unilaterals. In a sense, our own white blood cells are mostly unilaterals that we unleash on foreign, harmful germs that get into our blood stream.
This is not to say that symbiotics should round up all the unilaterals and hang them, because fact is, we need them, and we’re part them. This is to say that we know exactly who is who and make a rational, measured decision on whether we use them or not. For instance, should we select a mostly unilateral as a CEO? That CEO may fend off takeover attacks from other unilaterals, but he would also sell off the company’s assets for huge profits only to destroy the company.
It is perhaps comic how we have unwittingly already made a clear divide between unilaterals and symbiotics with the colors red and blue, the directions right and left. The right and red, obviously, are unilaterals who feel under siege of attack and believe it is better to be strong and aggressive rather than weak and vulnerable. They believe in arming up and closing off our borders and getting ready to fight the world. The left and blue are the symbiotics who feel that the best course of action is living in peace and harmony with each other, accepting diversity, embracing immigrants and foreigners, and working with other nations. It is not really a question of what you were born as but rather what you believe this country needs, a unilateral competitor or multi-symbiotic collaborator. Of course, this is a false illusion. The minds of the left and right are just manufacturing division and premises to get you to support their candidate. Their candidate may not even be a unilateral or symbiotic after all. In fact, certain Democratic candidates could be unilaterals under guise and certain Republicans could be symbiotic but in a way that allows them to be overrun and ordered around by unilateral advisors and staff. But there is no doubt at all that the ruling class, those who are actually above contrived political divisions are all unilaterals. It is absolutely clear that they don’t identify with any of the masses, and the world we live in is rather an extension of their belief system. If we lived in a harmonious and peaceful world, I would argue the opposite, that the ruling class were symbiotics.
In reality, it is more a spectrum from high symbiotic tendencies to high unilateral tendencies. It all sounds deterministic, and people may bring up the experiment where students read about how conscious decisions are made immediately after the fact and another group who read about freewill. The group who read about freewill did much better on a morality test. Does this mean we can change our behavior if we believe we can change our behavior? No. It means that if we are led to believe that we have freewill, we also tend to believe that we are more moral agents and behave accordingly. If somehow everyone believed that only people with freewill acted evilly or drank milk, if someone convinced us that we had freewill, we would act evilly and drink milk, because we have successfully associated the two things. After the fact, we would say that we drank the milk or acted evilly, because we were thirsty.
Another interesting feature of symbiotics is their gut bacteria which mirrors their symbiotic nature. It’s hard to tell if the bacteria influences the host, or the host influences the bacteria, or both. My suspicion is that it is both. Just as DNA takes cues from the environment using our bodies, bacteria takes cues from the body and adapts accordingly. If the body is constantly stressed and anxiety and tends to be a unilateral, the bacterial community somehow orchestrates a unilateralist takeover. If the body is relaxed, friendly, and tends to be symbiotic, the bacterial community then orchestrates a symbiotic takeover. There is much evidence indicating that our gut bacteria determines what we crave, so once it decides that we have become unilaterals, it engorges itself on food that is beneficial to the unilateral bacterial fauna.
I like to think that I’m consciously moving myself toward a symbiotic life, and consciously making wise food decisions also feed my symbiotic gut fauna. But evidence is suggesting that my move toward symbiotic life was prewritten as I was exposed to more and more symbiotic people and other influences which kept looping around and feeding into itself like that videogame where three green neighbors turn you into a green piece. But at the same time, the illusion of freewill is natural, and believing in the scam can be beneficial in our human scale habitat while being technically false at the universal scale. I can’t sit here and consciously decide whether I would like to deceive myself into believing that I am an individual making a freewill decision to become more symbiotic, because I’ve already made that decision. Yes. My conscious mind doesn’t knows and also knows that it made that decision and it has freewill and separate existence from all the other DNA carriers.
The fact that you read this review was prewritten, what some might say was meant to be, purposeful. It was purposeful alright, it’s purpose was to continue down whatever road you were inclined to go. What happens next is that, knowing the game, unveiling the small dude behind the curtain, what’s your next move? You can choose now and throw out all the possibilities, but you’ve already made up your mind. Your conscious mind reviews not the possibilities but the options you already turned down. 1. Go outside and run naked and go raving mad. Can’t and won’t. 2. Believe you have no freewill, assume that this means you are more evil and anti-social, become more evil and anti-social. 3. Believe you have no freewill, but don’t assume that this means you are more evil and anti-social, become more evil and anti-social because your unconscious mind has been conditioned otherwise. 4. Believe you have freewill, knowing in the back of your mind you don’t, and assuming it means you will become happier, more kind and social, become happier, more kind and social. You already know what you picked.
When the model looks in the mirror, she knows she’s not looking at herself anymore. Her real self is dead, suffocated under layers of makeup and commercial delusions. She wrongly assumes that this means that she is free to abuse herself, snort coke, sleep around, sell her story for a dollar, treat others like a jerk. Thank you no. In order to be happier, more social, and treat myself better, I’ll gladly assume that we are individuals with freewill in a material world, but I already knew that.