Today is the 10-year anniversary of the opening of this blog. As a result, there is a pretty sizeable backblog should anyone decide to wade in. As mentioned in my first post, I only opened this blog to get posting privileges at a group blog I admired because it functioned more like a discussion than a broadcast. The group blog died of attrition years ago, yet here I am 10 years later still writing my personal blog (which isn’t really about me).

Social media lives and dies by the numbers, and mine are deplorable. Annual traffic has ranged from about 6,800 to about 12,500 hits, much of which I’m convinced is mere background noise and bot traffic. Cumulative hits number about 90,140, and unique visitors are about 19,350, neither of which is anything to crow about for a blog of this duration. My subscriber count continues to climb pointlessly, now resting at 745. However, I judge I might have only a half dozen regular readers and perhaps half again as many commentators. I’ve never earned a cent for my effort, nor am I likely to ever put up a Patreon link or similar goad for donations. All of which only demonstrate that almost no one cares what I have to write about. C’est la vie. I don’t write for that purpose and frankly wouldn’t know what to write about if I were trying to drive numbers.

So if you have read my blog, what are some of the thing you might have gathered from me? Here’s an incomplete synopsis:

  • Torture is unspeakably bad. History is full of devices, methodologies, and torturers, but we learned sometime in the course of two 20th-century world wars that nothing justifies it. Nevertheless, it continues to occur with surprising relish, and those who still torture (or want to) are criminally insane.
  • Skyscrapers are awesomely tall examples of technical brilliance, exuberance, audacity, and hubris. Better expressions of techno-utopian, look-mom-no-hands, self-defeating narcissism can scarcely be found. Yet they continue to be built at a feverish pace. The 2008 financial collapse stalled and/or doomed a few projects, but we’re back to game on.
  • Classical music, despite record budgets for performing ensembles, has lost its bid for anything resembling cultural and artistic relevance by turning itself into a museum (performing primarily works of long-dead composers) and abandoning emotional expression in favor of technical perfection, which is probably an accurate embodiment of the spirit of the times. There is arguably not a single living composer who has become a household name since Aaron Copland, who died in 1990 but was really well-known in the 1940s and 50s.
  • We’re doomed — not in any routine sense of the word having to do with individual mortality but in the sense of Near-Term (Human) Extinction (NTE). The idea is not widely accepted in the least, and the arguments are too lengthy to repeat (and unlikely to convince). However, for those few able to decipher it, the writing is on the wall.
  • American culture is a constantly moving target, difficult to define and describe, but its principal features are only getting uglier as time wears on. Resurgent racism, nationalism, and misogyny make clear that while some strides have been made, these attitudes were only driven underground for a while. Similarly, colonialism never really died but morphed into a new version (globalization) that escapes criticism from the masses, because, well, goodies.
  • Human consciousness — another moving target — is cratering (again) after 3,000–5,000 years. We have become hollow men, play actors, projecting false consciousness without core identity or meaning. This cannot be sensed or assessed easily from the first-person perspective.
  • Electronic media makes us tools. The gleaming attractions of sterile perfection and pseudo-sociability have hoodwinked most of the public into relinquishing privacy and intellectual autonomy in exchange for the equivalent of Huxley’s soma. This also cannot be sensed or assessed easily from the first-person perspective.
  • Electoral politics is a game played by the oligarchy for chumps. Although the end results are not always foreseeable (Jeb!), the narrow range of options voters are given (lesser of evils, the devil you know …) guarantees that fundamental change in our dysfunctional style of government will not occur without first burning the house down. After a long period of abstention, I voted in the last few elections, but my heart isn’t really in it.
  • Cinema’s infatuation with superheros and bankable franchises (large overlap there) signals that, like other institutions mentioned above, it has grown aged and sclerotic. Despite large budgets and impressive receipts (the former often over $100 million and the latter now in the billions for blockbusters) and considerable technical prowess, cinema has lost its ability to be anything more than popcorn entertainment for adolescent fanboys (of all ages).

This is admittedly a pretty sour list. Positive, worthwhile manifestations of the human experience are still out there, but they tend to be private, modest, and infrequent. I still enjoy a successful meal cooked in my own kitchen. I still train for and race in triathlons. I still perform music. I still make new friends. But each of these examples is also marred by corruptions that penetrate everything we do. Perhaps it’s always been so, and as I, too, age, I become increasingly aware of inescapable distortions that can no longer be overcome with innocence, ambition, energy, and doublethink. My plan is to continue writing the blog until it feels like a burden, at which point I’ll stop. But for now, there’s too much to think and write about, albeit at my own leisurely pace.

  1. Although it may not have been your intent, the summary of topics brought a smile to my face. God, that is sad. I don’t always appreciate each post. But I’m always glad to see them arrive in my inbox.

    • Brutus says:

      Yeah, based on the bullets alone, one might think me a rage monster, ready to go postal at any moment. However, my keen sense of social justice (continuously thwarted in real life) is leavened by an appreciation of human frailty. So I still manage to smile and enjoy life despite its many egregious frustrations.

  2. livinloud24 says:

    I, too, share many of your thoughts on the state of our world. We can all hope that change for the better will come, but it seems possible that we won’t live to see it. Our world has become a poisonous place, both by who we, as a society, have become and what we have done. But still I hope and continue, like you. Thank you for your recap and I hope you continue to enjoy blogging.

    • Brutus says:

      Thanks for your comment. Some counsel hope. I rather prefer to abandon hope and just get on with things. I consider blogging a worthwhile thing to do, not so much an enjoyment. Same as with exercise. Can’t predict if I’ll last another ten years, though there are always things to rant about.

      • livinloud24 says:

        Agreed! And you’re welcome. I hope to help you “just get on with things”! I personally enjoy blogging and exercise, but I understand not everyone feels the same. Worthwhile works, too.

  3. toktomi says:

    I am an irregular regular having arrived I don’t know when – I follow a large number of thinkers and have for a very long time it seems – I began my research into what was then merely a question about energy over fifteen years ago, and I’ve barely let up since those fateful initial few days in late December, 2000.

    It is difficult to get all the way down when it is such an infinite privilege to have life, consciousness, self-aware self-awareness, and the ease provided by so much energy richness. It is such an unimaginably magical set of circumstances.

    But just this very day the first draft of a final perspective on humanity came over me. This species, save for a relative few exceptional moments, is pretty darn crappy. We fail miserably in every department and nearly every instance of wisdom, altruism, empathy, love, and all other traits good. We are impressive to be sure but really just crap in the final analysis. But it is difficult for me to imagine that there is not a potential in them thar genes to evolve to something quite remarkable and I suspect that it may lie dormant in the intellectual being that is trapped and controlled by the illusion of knowledge.

    I have a story. I don’t claim that this story is true. However, I believe much of it to be true.

    I envision a locked door to a better world. I don’t have a vision of what that world looks like. I can only see a door that locks humanity into this world which bears so many deformities.

    The lock that I envision on this door is the illusion of knowledge.

    An explanation of the illusion of knowledge begins with the idea that it is physically impossible for the brain to “know” anything. To see this, imagine how the brain receives information about the Universe, about the environment. All stimuli that are perceptible to the human organism are transmitted from the environment to receptor organs and nerves. Light, sound, smell, taste, pressure, heat, and tissue destruction are experienced by special organs and nerves but not directly by the brain. The environmental stimuli through various means are then translated into chemical/electrical nerve impulses and passed along to the brain where they are interpreted and stored according to a miraculously complex set of brain parts and protocols. The brain never hears sound, never sees light, never tastes, never smells, and never feels anything. The brain never experiences the external world. Therefore, it is impossible for the brain to “know” anything about the external world, the Universe at large. What the brain believes that it knows it perceives only as hearsay from the sensory body parts.

    Knowledge is an illusion, a very dangerous illusion for it is the basis by which people claim to be in possession of “the truth”. It is the illusion of knowledge and the illusion of truth that are at the root of all conflict. The illusion of knowledge is the key facilitator of all that is evil.

    Have you ever heard a self-proclaimed religious person ever say, “This is what I believe but I could be wrong”? I would guess not. All of them that I have ever met were self righteous to an insane fault – save for one who showed up at my door and who taught me a beautiful lesson in this story of mine. He basically told me that his religious beliefs were his personal faith, that he would love to have me believe as he did, but all was well if we didn’t share a belief.

    Now, the problem with the illusion of knowledge is that it is ingrained in the language – here I am familiar only with the English language. The language by and large locks people into expressing themselves only in terms of the illusion of knowledge. There are the four four-letter words and all of their derivatives. FACT, REAL, KNOW, TRUE And there are RIGHT and WRONG.

    To me the key to the lock on the door that traps humanity is in elimination of the language that sustains the illusion of knowledge. When people are able to express themselves without claiming to “know” the “truth” about the “facts” of what is “real” and without claiming to understand what is “right” and “wrong” then the species, I believe, will be able to experience and, indeed, will experience the next and greatest intellectual evolution. These words and few others need to be eliminated from the language.

    Well, I hope you stick around. You add pixels to my vastly incomplete world picture.


    • Brutus says:

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry about my delayed response. Your comment is longer than my blog post, which is common enough considering I try to keep posts down to only 3 or 4 paragraphs. I have two things to say about your comment.

      First, the notion that there is a thing to be perceived and/or understood and another real, true thing that lies beyond our ken has a long philosophical history with which I am only partially acquainted. However, as tempting as it is to suppose a thing and a thing prime (or a meta-thing), it also collapses into a semantic argument that doesn’t really illuminate much. Moreover, it gives rise to solipsism and a monstrous epistemological crisis. So while I will grant that much of what we believe to be true is illusion, and further, that cognition seems especially prone to error that way, I don’t see how muddying things further helps to clarify much except to convince a few folks to admit “Well, I guess I don’t really know much, then, do I?”

      Second, the related attempt to break apart the human organism into discrete parts, no one of which can be said to be the center of knowing, is a familiar feature of materialism. Again, it’s seductive but misleading. We function as whole beings, with only a few parts separable from the whole. Even if the body can be kept alive, remove too much and the knowing self just disintegrates. See my post about Donovan’s Brain. The reductionist argument is also used to argue against free will, to which some people fall victim because it’s just a little too clever, hiding its fundamental assumptions about wholes and parts.

      I can appreciate the desire to transcend or go beyond language. Many endeavors offer gateways past the linguistic tyranny. Music (not a language I insist) is one ready example. But language is simply too basic an aspect of humanity to eliminate and would be disastrous.

      • toktomi says:

        OK, well let’s chalk this up to my inability to articulate a very simple notion.

        Suffice it to say that there is only one species on the face of the earth that possesses a sense that existence somehow requires “knowledge”. All of the other life forms carry on quite well without it as could this species if those few specific parts of the language that enable this illusion could be withered to disuse.

        Truth is a weapon that we use to sway others to our way of thinking.

        or so it seems to me – i could be wrong


  4. Sitara says:

    You know the first line immediately inspired me. Thankyou :)

  5. beckjeremy says:

    Keep writing!

    NTE – with you [regarding] that.

    From Devon, SW England!

  6. Brutus says:

    Gawd, just saw that I misspelled “traffic” in the title of the post. Fixed. Shoot me now!

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