Saturday, January 28, 2012

Obsession with authenticity

In Eating Your Dinosaur (it's mostly about American pop culture, I don't recommend it), Chuck argues that we are conditioned by the media and [p.254] "We do not have the freedom to think whatever we want... And until we accept that, it's useless to think about anything else." Talking about Kaczynski, he says [p.259] "His ideas were too radical, but least they were his own." Why is it so important to have ideas that are "yours"? There is only one criteria to judge ideas with, and that is whether they are true or false, i.e. if they map to reality. Not if they are yours or someone else's... Who is "you" anyway? You are the product of biological and cultural evolution, a representation of the sum of your past.

Another book obsessed with authenticity is Enough. Bill has valid concerns about engineering our offspring but his emphasis on "free will" is bordering on the irrational. Speculating how a genetically enhanced piano player might feel [p.48] "...ever uncertain whether it is her skill and devotion or her catalogue proteins that move her fingers so nimbly ... [her mom] robs her forever of the chance to make music her own authentic context - or to choose something else (dance, art, cooking) as the act that brings her to life." If I was engineered, I have no doubt that I would be much happier and I would be grateful to my parents. I am sick of hearing that the meaning of life lies in our shortcomings. Shortcomings are a pain in the ass and nothing else. And don't worry, the universe is complicated enough to throw challenges at you, even if you are an Übermensch. I agree with Bill that it may lead to all kinds of inequality among humans, but that's not the point here.

In short, all my ideas and inclinations are collections of my experience and very few - if any - of them can be labelled as "this one is Şamil's". Stop wasting your time worrying about authenticity and focus on having the right filter/framework to find the truth. If you do that, I guarantee you that you will be as authentic as it gets because our world is awash in lies.

* Asu Maralman - Bal gibi olur
Marilyn Manson - Sweet Dreams

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