Year Two: The Dream vs The Game

What is the not-else?

I’ve never explicitly specified it, though some de facto answers have appeared since the blog gained this name. At first, it was “discipline”, “A set of beliefs, perspectives, and behavior patterns which lead to optimal results in all of human activity”. I have attempted a righteous mentality against all odds in every iteration though, and this has not withstood any reasonable test or length of time. Another one was “family”. Family is a firm answer to the question, but in terms of this blog it was useless. I did not end the blog after that answer because it was an unsatisfactory conclusion. One because my attempts to flush it out have been of poor quality, and two because it did not seal all the other loose ends.

There certainly is a not-else that is not family, and not discipline.

Let us call it “The Game”. Or if you prefer, “The World”.

The content of “the game” is the same as “discipline”, at least theoretically. The shift is in focus from what is in the mind to what is in the environment. This whole endeavor in making up words and naming things is fairly fruitless as far as I can tell. I haven’t been able to know myself better, or really much at all directly affect how I think about things. In every other area of life I only really learn if I do it; listening and watching has only ever amazed me. I can do kinematics in my sleep because I’ve done the problems so many times over so many years even before I ever heard of physics; anything I’ve done in upper division engineering I generally forget within a week after the final, if not sooner. Discipline, the way I’ve been talking about it, is of the latter category. I can’t really practice the pretty words I type.

This doesn’t mean I don’t learn, it just means it takes a lot longer and the penetration is much more shallow. I’ve had a certain timeframe for a while – three months – as the time between me finding an idea and unconsciously running it as a base assumption. According to timestamps, I’ve been talking about “game” rather than “discipline” since at least July 12th this year. Currently it is October 19th, which is approximately three months. After this date things referring to the “game” should be more stable. At the very least, I should not be making any more posts like the one I made on August 27th.

But three months is a ridiculous amount of time. If I supposedly accept that there are very dirty things in the world, then I should not be surprised when, over one month later, I find out that that’s exactly how things work closest to me. It’s one thing to go from nothing to understanding something in three months. This is taking an unknown amount of time to understand something, then three more months to take it seriously. There’s no other way to put it. It’s not like I learned something fundamentally different since mid-july. All the structure is sill the same. It wasn’t a summer of “Oh, I see”; it was a summer of “Not this shit again”.

I haven’t trusted the government since at least four years ago. And yet two days ago when I was pulled over for not stopping at a stop sign, I handed over my driver’s license number first thing without hesitation. One would think this is fairly standard procedure, but I was on a bike. It’s entirely plausible to tell the officer I don’t have a driver’s license. If you got a license three years ago and you’ve never seen or used it since (I don’t have a car), would you remember you had it? He could look it up, yes, but that does not mean that I couldn’t have attempted that action, nor does it mean he wouldn’t have believed me. When I told him I didn’t have it on me, he believed me. When I told him I didn’t have my wallet, he believed me. But I still went straight for the worst possible outcome, following my normal fatalist mentality, and didn’t put up any sort of fight at all. “Do you remember your drivers license number?” “X0000000”. Might as well have been a slot machine that decided to show 7-7-7.

Is it perjury? Depends, it’d have to be asked of a jury wouldn’t it? Only time it wouldn’t depend on the jury would be if I agree it’s perjury, at which point it is because the suspect just became the culprit. What it is is embarrassing that with so much read up and so much said on truth and perception, an implied understanding that shit out there is not my friend, and an explicit understanding that the government is not here to help, I’d go straight for my own jugular. Am I looking for trouble? No. Am I looking for a fight? No. But none of that means that there’s nothing left to do but to hand over the information. Lawyers exist for a reason. These vital details are the ones overlooked if all you are doing is theory. Theory does not know when, or more importantly, where to stop generalizing.

You can’t practice theory. That’s what makes theory theory. Via Ockham’s Razor and its derivatives the nature of theory is that only one will remain, in which case it instantly dies upon use as “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. I don’t care nor can afford to care anymore about being some sort of abstract correct. Abstract both in the sense that it’s not real, and in the sense that it’s contradictory. If I hypothesize something about reality, and then fail something because I didn’t assume my hypothesis was true, was I really right after all? Maybe. I could potentially say that “a part of me” was right and the rest was wrong. It’d make for good stories and guarantee an infinite supply of content because it’ll always happen.

It’d come at the cost of understanding. It does, has been, and always will.

I believe this is why most people never change: because we make and focus on stories about why or how what happened the way it did, and we like to theorize about ways it could have gone. Because in our minds is the only place where we can have our cake and eat it too. It’s the only place we can dream.

Dreaming is nice and all and I’m sure I’ll row-row-row my boat, but I’m going to have to stop doing that for several areas of my life – and I’m going to attempt to spread that other attitude to the rest. I’m in my fourth year in undergraduate Mechanical Engineering, and it’s abundantly clear now that there is no “pipeline”; nepotism is as present here as it is anywhere else and due to lack of preparation and training I cannot compete with everyone else in this field. All the PUA stuff I’ve read, no decent girlfriend. Which can reasonably be justified by saying American girls are garbage, but I haven’t ever devoted my full will to learning another language either. There’s nothing going for me except probably this blog and the writing skills I’ve developed here. Which would be technically fine, I’d just apply to write things for whatever instead, but I’ve been raised to believe that I’m smarter and brighter than most people and I deserve a “six digit salary” or whatever that might mean in the future adjusted to inflation for something said in 2000. Unless I can figure out a way to get that much money from writing what I want.

Selling out? Maybe. But I plan on eating. And I’m not doing it on EBT. My personality isn’t enough of the type to entirely give up and become a NEET, nor is it enough to just get angry at everything and actually go out to try and blow something up or burn something down. Weak and hypocritical? I won’t deny it if that’s what the story requires. Slow to wake up to the reality? I think that’s what I’ve been saying this whole time. Defense mechanism? Sure, that’s probably one reason why my posts are always so long.

I’d like to at least claim that this time, I’m trying to take critiques as they come. I say “as they come” rather than “to heart” because one involves time and delivery, i.e. they are part of the game and not part of my mind. From the standard “emo” teen ten years ago to today, I can’t honestly say I understand how I work better at all. Some things have changed, but it matters to literally no one if all I can do is figure out how stuff worked yesterday. The times I’ve actually tried figuring out how the world worked, fairly accurate results came almost instantly. The only problem was that I didn’t hold onto those attempts or try to improve them. I was trying to improve my understanding of myself – in a vacuum, which should’ve been obvious that it’d result in just emotional justifying of this or that so the status quo wouldn’t change. Not that it should change for the sake of change; it should stay put if it’s fine. But obviously it isn’t.

One would think that after spending so much time going back and forth over the same two or three minutes of a video transcribing a discussion on tilting, and having that post get the most views on this blog by over one level of magnitude, I wouldn’t get nearly as emotional or as often when playing videogames. And yet the exact opposite has been happening since then.

I need things to go in one ear and not come out the other.

So I’m going to think of it as a game. A game has set rules, and I have to believe that there are set rules. If the current set of rules is shown to be arbitrary, all that means is that there’s a greater set of rules that I didn’t see. Politics doesn’t work via laws, it works via nepotism – nepotism is arbitrary and random from the viewpoint of legal statements, but it’s very clear from at least another perspective. You don’t think of your friends as simply arbitrary; you know very clearly who they are and almost as clearly exactly what you’d be willing to do for them. You might not know what standards must be met in order for someone to be your friend, but you know the standards are there, because everyone you do like is similar in some sense, and not just anyone could join the in-group. There does exist a set of rules.

If I don’t believe there are a set of rules, I can’t start thinking. I’ll just start making up stories instead to make myself feel better. If I do think of everything as a game, and hold onto at least that, then at least I will always think.

Buying into the names and words isn’t necessary. I just have to play with them. And I do “have to”. I can’t make food and women and tools appear out of nowhere, nor can I wish myself into some fantasy. Using a shitty word means my mental structure will corrupt? Talking with shitty people takes more energy? Then I’ll just have to try and work around it. There’s certainly some things I can’t and won’t adapt to. But I’m sure there are things out there that people find very important that I couldn’t give less of a fuck about, and could excel at without a third thought.

I must connect my hatred of losing to my ability to think, and to the real world.

Unfortunately, we’ve reached a level of civilization, technology, and plenty that – to protect order and established interests – opportunities for vital, immediate equivalents to hunting and ware are increasingly rare. Weapons technology has made war too deadly and too easy for men willing to use that technology to get what they want at all costs. Lawyers and insurance companies – and more technology – have made dangerous, exciting and engaging jobs safe, easy and boring, Only a select few guardians, workers in shrinking and outsourced fields are satisfactorily engaged in activities where they feel like they are risking, struggling, and winning. Everyone else is just playing around, and they know it. Men are dropping out and disengaging from our slick, easy, safe world. For what may be the first time in history, the average guy can afford to be careless. Nothing he does really matters, and – what’s worse – there is a shrinking hope of any future where what he does will matter.

[…]The compromise between modern civilization and manliness promoted by intellectuals, is, predicatbly, an increased emphasis on intellectualized channels for masculinity. There are a few problems with this.

For starters, not all men are intellectuals, so they are going to suck at that game. No one likes losing all the time – ask any nerd or fag who has been bullied. If only a minority of men are intellectuals, and intellectualized masculinity is all we have, the majority of men are going to feel like they are losing all the time. If you want to create a society of listless antisocial losers, convince the majority of your men that they’re already losing, and that no matter what they do, they will never be able to win.

What’s the point in trying if you know the game is rigged?

For the satisfaction of knowing you are contributing to the greater good?

That’s just the kind of stupid thing an intellectual would say.

– The Way of Men, p. 102-3

“Just where is this hometown of Grandfather’s? We can’t even start if we don’t know that.
You mean you couldn’t start, so you stopped thinking? …Since it had to be a place where he could have lived, the number of possibilities is limited. Well, this is the toughest part.”
“You are the witch who could ‘certainly solve any riddle that can be solved’, aren’t you? So you took those limited possibilities… in other words, everywhere on earth, and considered every single piece of land that Grandfather might have lived on?”
“…That would work too, but that way, no amount of time would be enough. So, I needed to take some more hints into consideration to wring out the answer.”

“But this isn’t six characters at all. I’m absolutely sure that this is the answer, but this doesn’t reach six characters at all…!”
“Did you stop thinking again? In that case, think of a way you could read it with six characters. If you can’t think of one, then research it.”

There has to be an answer. You must not doubt that.

If you can’t believe that, why don’t you cry yourself to sleep, and then just give up and die?

– Umineko no Naku Koro Ni: End of the Golden Witch

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One thought on “Year Two: The Dream vs The Game

  1. Pingback: perfectionism is dumb | All Else Is Halation

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