Fear and Cognitive Capture

Sometimes I will talk to somebody who says “Most people are just little self-pitying worms and the important thing in life is to be a man, to sin greatly, and enjoy death!”  And I’ll think “He means me!  I am one of those self-pitying worms. I am not one of those human macho beasts who enjoys death!”  And that person will frighten me.

But I realized at some point that it was not an accident that the person’s speech frightened me — it was designed to frighten people!  They don’t actually believe it — they haven’t even thought very hard.  They just figured out a way to talk that would raise everybody else’s fear level.  All this stuff about daring to sin and loving death is just bullshit.

But where did it come from?

Jonathan Swift explained it in “A TALE OF A TUB” which I read recently. The inhabitants of mental hospitals are just like great generals and great philosophers. They believe crazy things.  And the first person that they drove crazy was in each case, themselves.

Hitler was just a terrified, confused, self-pitying shmo, but at some point the odd idea arose in his mind that he was going to redeem Germany and he was always right. He got a hot hand in some political backstabbing and that stupid idea captured the poor shmos mind, and then, being cognitively captured as he was, he went on to capture others with the “life is a terrifying and lonely and beautiful embrace of death” bullshit line which I have described.

Too bad, right?  Let’s not let people scare us with this nonsense, okay?


3 thoughts on “Fear and Cognitive Capture

  1. I listened to a man who talked about his recovery from drug addiction and abuse. He said his turning point was when he was on top of a man, beating him with a chain, and that he had a moment of clarity in his drug haze to be aware of what he was actually doing, and this shocked him so greatly that after the fact, he reformed. I think this tale has great bearing on this current subject, insomuch that man’s moments of clarity and crisis of conscious don’t simply end with a single choice in a single instance, but rather open paths that lead to other parts that men follow for life.

    Let us say that another person, in the same position, pummeling on another human being, also had a moment of clarity, a crisis of conscious, but instead of reacting to his horror of his own actions by being revolted, he instead chose to defend himself, his actions, his ego, and embraced his evil, made up a reason why he should continue pummeling the victim, and instead beat him even harder? Some men, in times of crisis which arise from their own actions, will go with their defensive mechanisms within themselves, make excuses, double down on the problem, and perhaps even become evil and change themselves.

    “Why did you beat that poor man?”

    “Well, he deserved it”

    “Why did he deserve such a savage beating?”

    “How could a reasonable man such as myself beat a man so savagely without a good reason?”

    “That’s not a reason at all”

    “Well, people are worms, so everyone has it coming, I suppose”

    Man is hot or cold, he is not capable of neutrality. He will either embrace good or evil in his crisis of conscious, and it will often lead to the man changing himself to that end. The man who always defends his actions, no matter how self destructive or destructive to others, will eventually embrace the mantra that you talk about. If his actions were impulsive, he will claim he had good reason and acted, and will rationalize, if he hurts others, he will claim they had it coming, if he harms himself and defends it, he will resort to self loathing.

    At some point, the man has to defend himself more and more, as the problems build up, he continues to defend all of the bad actions, as well as the new problems he keeps making in order to defend the old ones. He forms patterns around bad decisions and ideas, all in an effort to rationalize old behaviours. The damage mounts, his life suffers, and his defenses have to become more and more complex, stronger, harder line. He eventually becomes fatalist, and reaches the final low point of celebrating his negative consequences and embracing the death he has made for himself.

    “Your drug problem has lead you to hurting all of your loved ones, hurting yourself, hurting that man with a cruel beating, and now you are on your deathbed from this abuse. What do you have to say?”

    “All of those dirty bastards deserved it, and I deserved my suffering too. At least I lived the wild fun life and partied, unlike you squares. At least sweet death will release us all from this living nightmare”

    Tell a man who hates that hating people hurts him more than those he hates; you might be answered with “Well, at least they get to burn some”. He is more than happy to assume harm to himself and his heart if it means just a little bit of his hatred hurts those around him. IN his crisis, he might have a time where his conscious makes him throw up his old hatred and turn to what is right;, or he might double down and become more hateful.

    The man who is an alcoholic may drink twice as much to prove how well he can hold his liquor and show he is not an alcoholic, a man who commits a sexual assault may come to dehumanize and hate his victims after that fact to relieve his own conscious, the man who did evil once may do evil thrice to prove that what he did was correct, because to abstain, quit, or reform would be an act of admitting wrongness, and we can’t have that now, can we.

    When a man fears the darkness within himself, he will either try to expose himself to the light, or embrace that darkness. It is a case of either/or in man, either he trys to hold what is in his stomach or puke.

    By calling all men worms, he dehumanizes them and makes them exploitable to himself in his reason. If all other men are worms, than why should I be held to moral courage? By saying all there is to life is sin and death, he cuts himself off from the good in life, the holy, the fulfilling and happy, and when he cuts off the good and life, he takes away the contrast of his bad acts to make them look better, and his fatalism is the ultimate excuse for everything. He gives in to the fear in himself, and has the terrible, but easy life, of a coward.

    I would argue that the central problem you discussed is actually about the fact that some men do not want to embrace the good in themselves, don’t want to embrace good at all, and will latch on gladly to such reasoning. There is the Mr. Rogers, or Barney the Dinosaur bullshit too, that every man is good and wants good. This is not the case. Because of this, we should not be shocked when their mantras and attitudes reflect this.

  2. Susan says:

    If he apologizes and acts nice for a few months, he can beat up another guy. Apologize for that, too. Do it again, and again. It’s what excites him like nothing else ever will.

  3. Speaking of philosophy, probably what is scary is that it’s an alternate philosophy – the scary bit is by seeing the other philosophy, suddenly seeing ones own and rendering ones own life, in all it’s myriad groundedness, to simply be a floating philosophy as well. How do you propose to get food and shelter? And the intellectual just floats – they somehow assume they are special and will get food and shelter for being this special. When really they rely on people who live at the sharper end of life to harvest food and maintain shelter. And these people have philosophies of life that are informed by the sharp end of the stick they find themselves against – they will party and think a viking end sounds cool. And the intellectuals will ignore them for intellectuals are entitled to food and shelter and so need think nothing about how they themselves eat, so these people against the sharp vote for Trump. You ignored your feet, and now they walk you somewhere dread.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s