January Links

My Black Mirror review yesterday got me some critical mails, which is alright. Only a madman wants everyone to agree with him. Ordinary people who want to get along ask for something a little more subtle… which is kind of the point of the review itself. If you enjoy BM, fine, of course — but could something subtle, but vitally important, be missing from Brooker’s series? Is it possible? That’s what I want to ask — and what I’ll ask again in other reviews over the year ahead. No need for us to fall out is there?

Smiley face!

Anyway, on to the links. Every now and then I’m going to post a few bits and pieces from around the internet to take a gander at…

The World Health Organisation say that 1 in 4 people are mentally ill. My view is that mental illness is a myth, or, another way to put it, that 4 in 4 are insane and those labelled mentally ill are those with anti-social or unproductive selves-in-charge. Still, I can’t argue with an article that claims that Living in America Will Drive you Insane, Literally.

On a related matter, I’ll have more to say on the great Thomas A Szasz, who introduced the world to the myth of mental illness, at another time. For now, here is his essay on suicide.

And talking of suicide, I think if I were to cash my chips in, I’d go for hemlock. Here are some thoughts on Socrates’ use of that poison, and why it’s a pretty decent way to go. (ever heard of The Complete Manual of Suicide? a translation would be handy, but I don’t think there is one.)

Hierarchy is Detrimental for Human Cooperation. Of course it is. Another study that discovers the bleeding obvious. One day you’ll see a study which demonstrates that ‘Spoken, Literal Speech is Detrimental for Human Decision-Making’ or that ‘Feelings are Detrimental to Love’ or ‘Jack Whitehall is Detrimental to British Comedy.’ That said, a society or group without any leadership is a complete fantasy, which is why I coined the term ‘omnarchy’ — temporary governance by fundamentally powerless leaders.

On the subject of ‘literal speech’, Aldous Huxley is at his best when he is writing essays, letters or chatting. His stories, I find, are just vehicles for his mind to wonder through the tunnels of the psyche. Here’s a classic interview from the Paris Review, which has interviewed many literary giants, and posted them on its site.

Huxley mentions Lawrence, who was the greatest English writer of the past four hundred years. Here is the essay which originally put me on to Lawrence, here is a related, shorter celebration of Lawrence by the same author (Steve Taylor, who is insightful, but a bit cheesy for me) and here is a delightful little meditation by the man himself.

On a similar theme, MediaLens’ cogitation on the nature of the self. David Edwards is one of the few authors who really understand that ‘the personal is the political’ and vice versa; that politics without radical self-enquiry is as futile and hollow as self-improvement without engagement with the actual world. This is another good one from Edwards — I particularly like the final section where he talks about responding to aggressive emails. When I first read it I remember feeling quite humbled and ashamed of how I have responded to criticism in the past and a determination to do better in the future — very rare to read something which actually changes you in this way, no?

Finally, treat yourself to some excerpts from The Papalagi.


Oh, one more thing — about the damned media, and then I’m done with that for a bit. It’s this; if an opinion or view or attitude or belief or proposal appears in the ‘mainstream’ media — in the New York Times, the New Internationalist, the BBC, whatever — then it must be besides the point. This doesn’t just mean the news, but;

  • Gender issues and LGBT rights…
  • …in fact, all talk of rights.
  • Schooling, medicine (especially psychotherapy), journalism…
  • …in fact, all professionalism and all talk of work.
  • Sex and love (and dating, and marriage, and child-raising).
  • Science (especially all talk of genetics, consciousness and tech).
  • Religion (especially as something which is ‘opposite to atheism’).
  • Nature (including ‘protecting the environment’).
  • Reality and virtual reality.
  • History and pre-history.
  • Art and artistic truth. And porn.
  • Death and the coming catastrophe.

If your view of any of these tallies with any paid corporate employee (aka ‘journalist’ — casual contributors are very occasionally exempt) I would amicably (although perhaps not very gently) suggest you are catastrophically wide of the mark. I have explained why this is, and tackled all of the above subjects, in in The Apocalypedia; but I shall be doing so again, from various different angles, over the course of this blog year. Stay tuned!