Saturday, April 09, 2005

Un-Rage against the Machine (Part I)

Whoa (Keanuspeak). More than a month since I've posted something. Where do people find the time for daily blogging?

Well, I thought I'd make this entry a little more introspective. If reading about self-examination isn't your thing then feel free to check out this cool little flash game about making it home after a big night out.

Being a typical white male, it seems that anger is something I have to deal with. A lot.

Exactly how this anger is externally expressed has varied throughout my life, but the primary outlet seems to have been verbal, scaling between sarcastic quips and explosive, vitriolic ranting. Despite that I'm definitely not the smallest of guys, physical violence has never appealed to me. I suppose you'd be pretty spot on in guessing that my bark is far worse than my bite.

The "triggers" could be just about anything. It was more a function of being in a certain irritated "mood", and then it wouldn't be too long before an appropriate circumstance gave me the opportunity to get worked up. You can also probably guess that some people recognised this and took great delight in finding just what buttons to press in order to get me into that state.

One of the most common triggers was (and still is) injustice. For some reason I take a deep offense at injustice, and that can be an unfortunate thing in this world, as there is certainly plenty of it to go around.

The other main one stems from observing how people in general seem to care only about themselves, and how shabbily they treat each other on a day to day basis as a result of this. It seems like the "I'm alright Jack" mentality rules the roost. "Get what you can, while the gettings' good", "Always look after #1"... etc etc... et infinitum ad nauseum. Of course, it would be incredibly hypocritical of me not to admit that I don't behave in the exact same way. From everything I've seen about human society, it seems that we are "wired" to serve ourselves first and foremost.

This observation is hardly unique though. For instance, Richard Dawkins has come up with a body of work to justify this. But I digress.

As I grew through adolescence, senior school and then University, it seemed that the more I learned, the more time I spent in anger-related states. Of course, physical and biochemical changes during those times in life are powerful engines for the emotions, but the corresponding knowledge increase also added extra fuel to the fire. I learned about politics, and the corruption that seems to intertwine through it like a fungus through stale bread. I began to be disillusioned with Western society, seeing only greed, decadence and corruption, with a complicit populace of selfish, TV-addicted drones.

Lacking no perceived alternative due to a general contempt for the "hippy" & "commie" nature of the alternative political youth scene, I figured "When in Rome..." and began to devote my University years to serious partying.

"O thou invisible spirit of wine! If thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil!" - Shakespeare

It seems however, that hedonism has limits imposed by one's physical and mental well-being. Well, that, and I guess I am probably too much of a control freak to ever "let go" to the extent required for the real Caligula-inspired stuff. It doesn't seem so much of a problem for some people though!

Ah well, each to their own.

Upon leaving University for the world of full-time employment, it became slowly revealed to me through various incidents how counterproductive and juvenile my bouts of irritation and anger were. I began to realise that one of the primary reasons I felt angry so often was that I did not feel like I had any control over my life - that everything just "happened" to me and there was no meaning to anything I did. Watching the first "Matrix" movie was an epiphany for me. My favourite moment in the movie will probably always be the "interview" scene where Neo first meets Morpheus.

Morpheus: "Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know, you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something _wrong_ with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."

I felt like some kind of sleepwalker on a giant hamster wheel. I still went out a lot, still had my fun, cycled through a couple of relationships, worked at my job - a pretty average life for a young male, yet the "splinter" was still there. So I started reading a little more... taking more notice of the news and world events. This was somewhat counterproductive from an anger-management viewpoint because it gave me so many more opportunities to get worked up - especially given the incredible torrent of apathy that normally greets a person in Australia when trying to discuss these types of things. Interestingly, the more worked up I got over this stuff, the more I began to notice that I always felt depressed afterwards about the seeming dead-end life that I was embracing at a snail's pace; another cog taking its place in the larger machine with a minimum of fuss... slowly having the sharp edges ground off the teeth and running smoothly along until finally... what? What normally happens to a running cog in a machine that never stops?

Well, that's enough recapping for the moment, but I recently read something interesting in "The Fourth Way" by P.D. Ouspensky that made me reflect on this "Raging against the Machine":
"Q. I observe two kinds of indignation in myself one when for example I see a child hurt, and another when something annoys me myself. Are they both equally negative?

A. The more unselfish the indignation is, and the more right you are, the worse it is. The more energy you lose in it, the more negative results it will produce.

Q. Why am I so much sooner roused into negative emotions during discussions than at any other time? Political discussions, for instance.

A. Because you always think that things can be different. When you realize and become firmly convinced that things could not be different, you cease to argue. Arguing is based on the idea that things could be different and that some people could do things differently. Try to think from the point of view that all that happens happens because it cannot be different; if it could be different it would have happened differently. It is very simple, but very difficult to realize."
Ouspensky got it in a nutshell... I always did (and still do) think things could be different. But what would it mean to admit that things could not be different? What kind of can of worms would that open?

And what are the implications about the greater global situation that affects all of us?


At 7:44 am, Anonymous TAKEtheBLUEpill said...

Incredible Whippy!...... I look forward to having the time to read all the articles in your blog and spending the time to reading all the obviously well placed links.

I also look forward to picking your brain when i see you out next. Man, REALLY impressed!




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