Issue link: http://cp.revolio.com/i/2624
ai Bio enhanceD nano neuRo humoR FoReVeR young 88 Fall 2009 humoR The purSuiT of CrappINess JOE QUIRK D id you enjoy reading your little transnerdulist magazine about pleasure, prancing and sustained orgasm? Now you expect a little humor, don't you? Well, guess what? I'm not in the mood. I was in a yoga class this morning, listening to the soothing sounds of the instructor telling me to lean backwards until I stick my nose up my own ass, and if I feel snapping and popping to just go with the flow. The gentle croon of the flute made me grind my teeth, the trickle of the fake waterfall made me have to urinate, and performing the "twisting willow" maneuver made me have to fart. Seeing a mirror everywhere I looked -- that was the final sadism in this crap my wife makes me do to lower my stress. At six goddamn AM. If you're not from California, you will need me to explain. Yoga is an ancient spiritual practice designed to clear the body of gas. By contorting your joints into exquisitely painful positions, it helps you appreciate life when you're not contorted into exquisitely painful positions. I'm built like a fire hydrant — and I'm about as flexible, so I distracted myself from my seething rage by contemplating this issue's general theme of human happiness. Try this test. Read some Kahlil Gibran poetry while having your hemorrhoids removed. See if you are profound enough to appreciate the miracle of your moment-by-moment existence. I was audited last year. To sooth myself, I read Chicken Soup for the Soul. Didn't help. Profound people can see the miracle of each moment. Good for them. What about us shallow people? We pay gurus to teach us how to stop being miserable. Now I'm listening to yoga twerp tell me and a group of huffing, puffing sweaty women that stress does not come from the "world without" but from the "world within." Interesting theory contortionist boy. My personal theory is that stress is caused by everybody constantly pissing me off, and not shutting the hell up while I'm trying to stick my elbow into my armpit because it's good for my health. Hey ladies, how about instead of the "twisting willow" maneuver, we twist the head off yoga boy? That would relieve some stress. Instead, yoga twerp recommends meditation. Meditation? Guess what that's about? Acknowledging that our default state of mind is a torment. Why do we have to put effort into stopping our thoughts from torturing us? Does my dog need to twist his body into contortions to stop himself from neurotic thinking? No, and it ain't because he's spiritual. It's because his species hasn't evolved our style of bloated frontal lobe. That's the part of the human brain that's in charge of imagining long-term future scenarios and choosing among them. Hominids with a deep sense of well-being didn't pass on as many genes as hominids whose anxiety drove them to worry about their children, stress about the next draught, and complain that their hand axes need to be redesigned to prevent calluses. Thus I inherit a brain specialized for bitching. My meditation guru tells me to "observe" my thoughts and "go with the flow," but you don't go with the flow when you're on shit creek. Are there any legitimate methods for sustaining happiness in the bitching brain? Nancy Etcoff, Harvard psychologist and author of Survival of the Prettiest, typed "happiness" into Amazon and found over 2,000 titles that promise to deliver it through the 7 habits, 9 choices, 10 steps, 12 secrets, and 14,000 thoughts of deliriously happy people. This pisses me off. Suppose I read all 2,000 books. Will I be any happier? If anybody had any clue, why would we need 2,000 books? Tens of millions of us are clinically nuts. How do I know this? There are 120 million medications for anti-depression at large night now. What do we need to keep our civilization running? Economists will tell you: gas, oil and illegal drugs. Each represents about 8% of the world trade. That's about the right ratio for my personal economy too. I need to drive, buy crap and medicate myself. Otherwise, I'd have to shoot some of you. We Americans have one of the highest homicide rates among developed countries. This sounds like a big problem until you realize our suicide rate is higher than homicide rate. Most Americans, when given the opportunity to kill the person they hate say, "Oh, to hell with it. It's easier to kill myself." It's a species-wide behavior. Each year, some 800,000 people across the planet off themselves. What's our problem? I'll tell you what our problem is. We humans are smart enough to figure out what a raw deal existence is. One of my favorite beach reads is Schopenhauer, who, as far as I'm concerned, made a pretty airtight argument that life is neither good nor indifferent. Life is evil. Life has exquisitely designed every living thing to hurt and kill other living things. Think about it. Each of us must kill to feed. Nothing that gets fed upon wants to be killed. You will not survive without participating in this evil. There is no way out but death. Laughing yet? If you refuse to kill to feed, the universe punishes you with a slow torturous death of starvation. The only thing life demands is that you kill. The only sin life punishes is not killing. The only commandment: Thou shalt not not kill. As The Schopster put it in his chapter, "On the Vanity and Suffering of Life": This world is the battle-ground of tormented and agonized beings who continue to exist only by each devouring the other. Therefore, every beast Satisfaction sustained. Empathy mutual. Trust utter. Love permanent. Energy infinite. Violence extinct. Suffering banished. Everything that nature isn't.