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Interesting person on LJ

theheretic is a type I diabetic and former science fiction writer. I was wandering around in his journal and it is full of great ideas and interesting thoughts about our future and human nature.

Here's a quote from the middle of an entry about why he is alive, which in a word, is "insulin":

Optimism is a terrible evil, one of the greatest ever, imho. Like religion or shame. It is a destructive creation meant to enslave. Its very hard to explain why unless you're a serious pessimist like me. Optimism has positive results, but the negative ones are maddeningly squashed and ignored. People don't learn when they're optimists. They just keep thrashing around until they're dead. And usually, after they've infected more idiots with optimism so they'll die too. Peasants aren't optimists, they're just realistic about their odds of survival and accept an early death as the cost of being alive at all. If we were less greedy for comforts, and less optimistic, we'd have avoided the pitfalls that have already doomed our civilization, and will send people like me off to a painful death.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 22nd, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm interested in what attracted you to this section of his post.

Being an optimist, what he says doesn't ring true. I'm not really sure I get the point of his post at all. But then again I don't know him so to come in cold it just seems incredibly cynical and negative. Then again, I might be the same if I had to depend on a drug for my life.
May. 22nd, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
Look up the words: "Peak Oil" in Google and get back to me.
May. 22nd, 2009 03:50 am (UTC)
OK, I looked it up. Your point is?
May. 22nd, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Some arguments to consider
Best case: the third world stops improving and halts its level of development. Worst case the third world starves or riots and the first world joins them. This would make delivery of Insulin rather unlikely and I would experience a terrible death. You might look up "Ketoacidosis" on WebMD.com. As I used to be a Survivalist and have a pretty low opinion of how people treat each other, from misunderstood indifference to deliberate evil, knowing I'm going to face death because people can't get along is a humiliating realization. And I really believe that they'd rather kill each other than compromise their "dreams". Optimists pretend that Peak Oil is someone else's problem, either because they can't believe that Oil, a limited resource, can run out, or because they think it will run out in decades or centuries rather than pay attention to the already declining production and existing wars over oil that began recently (Kuwait 1990-91, Iraq 2003, Nigeria 2006).

Pessimists and Cynics like me know its our problem and we Americans will face the wrath of the rest of the world for centuries because WE STOLE IT ALL. We burned it up. It was a chance to bootstrap the third world into first world amenities: clean water, sewage treatment, hospitals, roads. All that is gone, possibly forever.

I keep my fingers crossed that advancements in solar will be seized by the govt and given away to the third world so they have something to be grateful for and a way to advance themselves towards a world which will HAVE TO BE sustainable, whether it wants this or not. And Optimist wouldn't prepare or make the effort, because Optimists believe that someone else will do it, that they live in the best of all possible worlds. Candide, by Voltaire, published around 1760, clearly and concisely disproved optimism with numerous examples. Optimism is just as wrong as the Flat Earth Society and the insistence of Phlogiston being responsible for wood combusting in a fire.

Why do I care about what the third world thinks? Because I know that wars start over Envy, and the USA is sitting on unmineable and expensive to extract oil shale, which fools in the third world will likely claim is and ace in the hole instead of a useless non-resource within our borders. The third world has lots of conspiracy theories whose villains are always Yankees (Americans) operating from the shadows. We're the cause of the world's troubles, they say, and no amount of reality will dissuade them. An optimist would say that the World Trade Center never fell, but it did, didn't it? And the men responsible blamed us for hurting their homes. The whole world has men who hate us like that. An optimist would ignore that hatred and blithely visit on an EcoTour and get kidnapped and dismembered in the deserts or jungles because they were ignorant. I believe in human nature. I have seen its cold eyes with my own.

Please take the time to consider your philosophical position in context with both history and modern reality. Or ignore me and go on your merry way. It's your life, after all. Self determination is well and good and accepting other's beliefs and respecting their choices is a very American truth. I'm also Pro-Suicide. Anyone who wants to off themselves leaves more food at the Table for me. They always get my gratitude.
May. 22nd, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
Re: Some arguments to consider
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. You make some very valid points. Your description of "Optimists" sounds more to me like people who prefer to spend their time wearing blinders than people who have a favorable outlook or see opportunity (as I understand the definition of optimism).

Call it what you will, I can't argue any of your points. I KNOW this country has caused many problems in the world, that people are suffering and we are wasting and hogging the resources on our planet. I am very grounded in reality and what's going on around me, and always interested to hear opinions.
May. 22nd, 2009 04:36 am (UTC)
Re: Some arguments to consider
Fair enough. I think our biggest problem is that we've become people who treat the world in a very binary fashion, treat other people like tools to be used and discarded. We've turned into barbarians, like the Mongols invading Europe. We invade using whatever tricky advantage we can gain, scope out the resources, take whatever we can grab and often spoil what's left so no one else can use it and compete against us in future, then leave. Small wonder that Americans are hated worldwide, and Californians and New Yorkers most of all, even in the rest of the nation.

It bothers me that we've become a nation of selfish idiots. We are entirely involved with consumption, with getting ours. I don't think it was always like that, but I may be blinded by revisionist history they taught us in school and the history books are written by the victors, after all.

Rome took 4 centuries to fall. Spain fell in one. Britain fell in decades. America seems to to have fallen in around half a century, starting in 1968 (Free Love was a terrible thing), war in Vietnam (which we lost), the Cold War (which we won, barely), and all that deficit spending has finally come home to roost. I see the current crisis, which is only half-way over at this point, to be the beginning of the end of the financial system which allows the USA to be cooperative states. After the Dollar fails, we need replacement currencies and a total refusal to back US securities by the individual states so we aren't paying China for centuries into the future. We're better off losing faith and focus on our real product: food. America grows enough rice, in California, to feed a billion people. America grows enough grain in the midwest to feed another 2 billion people. We literally feed half the world. That's our Ace In The Hole. Its all dependent on water supply and soil fertility. We will be forced to convert to sustainable agriculture over the next 5-15 years, and figuring out the water supply problem will depend a great deal on the weather, I think, and how well we get along with Canada. Their Frasier River has enough to divert to irrigate the Great Plains and recharge the Ogalalla Aquifer. That's a big deal. We'd need their permission to build a canal and take lots of water, though, and they're not interested right now.

In the long run we'll be bioengineering crops to grow with less water and fix their own nitrogen into the soil so most of the legwork isn't required any longer. People have to get over their hangups about transgenic crops. Its the future. People who disliked looms broke them. People who disliked iron cursed it. Both types fighting the future lost. The future always wins. We can count on that. That is why, despite the low depression caused by the oil collapse, in a few decades things will improve again. Here in the USA it won't be Mad Max or The Stand or anything like that. It will just be poor, smelly, dirty, sticky, humble pie america for about 20 years. I can deal with that, so long as they keep delivering the insulin. So can you. The Third World is going to suffer. We'll be a lot better off.
May. 22nd, 2009 03:57 am (UTC)
reality is not PC
I am attracted to his writing because I am a pessimist too, by his definition. And I am also "cynical and negative". I generally hold back from offering my true thoughts, even here on this journal, because it gets me so much negative feedback.

I enjoy reading others who predict similar outcomes to what I see in my crystal ball. There are quite a few of us all arriving at the same conclusions. It is human nature after all to seek out those who agree. I appreciate this fellow because his ideas are not bound by dogma, they are formed freely of a synthesis of all the information taken in. And to a great degree, without value judgement. Clear vision of difficult subjects is unusual, because most people paint what they want to happen all over the truth. This is what I think he is saying about optimism. By acting as if everything is just fine, we will miss our opportunity to avert catastrophe.
May. 22nd, 2009 04:05 am (UTC)
Re: reality is not PC
Yes, I know well how you see the world. We've had the discussion many times.

I suppose I could be viewed as a pessimist in some ways, as I do think things are pretty fucked up and I"m not sure what we can do about it... I am optimistic about my own survival skills, optimistic that if we have worldwide disaster and a huge population die-off, that the human race will prevail... optimistic that hard work and perseverance pay off.

I'm just not sure that my optimism should put me into the class of "idiot" because I have the ability and desire to believe that things are possible. I'm not worried about what happens if we run out of oil, if the power goes out, if the grocery store ceases to exist, because I hold optimism that I have the survival skills to get by. Then again, I am well aware that I don't represent the majority of the population in this country, and most people would suffer far more than I in the event of the Big Emergency that you're so certain will happen (I'm not convinced we will see it in our lifetimes).

If I told people what I think about many things, they'd think I was a nut. So I keep it close to the cuff, just like you. I'm sure many people would find my ideas incredibly offensive.
May. 22nd, 2009 04:39 am (UTC)
Re: reality is not PC
LOL. You're no idiot and if we get stuck on the words pessimist and optimist we're missing a big chunk of the story. Any one label can't tell the whole story about a person.

I think what happens too often is that realists are labeled pessimists by those who don't want to see the truth. It isn't that I think nothing can go right, but rather I see the position we are in as a civilization, and as a species, and it's pretty desperate. If we don't admit it, we're fools. If we do admit it, we're "pessimists".

Of course some people will survive---those who are stubborn and hardworking AND located in a place/situation that allows them to survive. Those who plan ahead and relocate suitably will do best. I know that you see the changes coming, and you are planning your path forward carefully.

The heretic names himself appropriately, and uses his journal to vent all those thoughts that are terribly offensive to many. You are more willing to share your personal tale in an introspective style. I thrive on both of you. I just hope you don't tick each other off too much. =-]

I have discovered that my own predictions seem to be the best ones that I get. I keep proving myself right, not really wanting to be right, but finding that the writing really was on the wall. The heretic said in something I read that he much prefers to be wrong. I do too. It's far more interesting.

I'm glad every time you pipe up about what you really do think.
May. 22nd, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
Re: reality is not PC
I found his responses to my comments to be enlightening and informative. And I agree, getting stuck on semantics leaves out most of the story.

You know I'm not very good at philosophical discussion, at least not in electronic forums, so thanks for letting me try in your journal. :-)

You amaze me with your predictions. I wish I could see the world as clearly and have as good an understanding of things as you do. I'm getting there, slowly.
May. 22nd, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
Ok, I don't know if I am an optimist, pessimist or realist...

I have hope for humanity, but realise the number of mistakes we have made getting to where we are today... and we need to make changes if we want a future. I am optimistic that we can, as individuals, make said changes, however I am pessemistic about it because the people that make the large scale decisions that affect us on the population basis tend to be selfish, and not looking out for the future, simply after there own greed.

I think the truly intelligent people look to the future with hope and fear, as they see where we could go - both sides of the coins (Is that a realistic point of view?)

Edited at 2009-05-22 03:56 am (UTC)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )



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