Oh Captain
Ad 2:
2002-02-20 03:48:30 (UTC)

Chapter 4

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in
various ways; the point is to change it.
-Karl Marx
I think that there is a marked lack of awareness in the
society of today. Not a local awareness, an awareness
of the big picture. All these ingrained values that are
beaten into our brains since day one have been
poisoning our logic, inflating our emotions, making us
more and more dependent on others to make our
decisions for us. Forging a herd mentality unworthy
even of the lowest of lemmings. We have become
weak, weaker than our ancestors, not only physically
but mentally as well. I’m not talking in terms of the
knowledge that we pride ourselves on gaining on a
daily basis. After all, that which we know is greatly
eclipsed by that which we do not know. I’m talking in
terms of reason, in terms of wisdom, in terms of
questioning. What kind of society do we live in when
people talk to each other thousands of miles away over
the internet about forbidden fornications and get off on it
as if it’s actually happening? Look at pictures of
beautiful models that they’ll never have just for a
temporary endorphin fix? Hide their perceived defects
behind layers of facial paint or lettered fabric?
Treat--no, abuse--our bodies and desires like
pudendous blights, objects of shame, never to be
revealed to anyone? Blindly follow religious dogma set
down by our mothers, and their mothers before them,
not out of personal conviction but solely out of
FUCKING TRADITION?! Protect the “rights” of illegal
aliens while born citizens are cheated out of their jobs
by so-called affirmative action or impossibly competitive
pay rates? Allow an unelected politician to assume the
top executive office? I’m not trying to sound racist here,
I just think we need to question a few of the things
we’ve been taking for granted. How did this get
started? Where, and most importantly when, are the
roots of this abomination, this bleeding-heart chimera?
When was it that just becaue something was popular, it
was good? Just because it was common, it was
embraced? Everyone does it, that makes it acceptable;
furthermore, it becomes desirable! Think trends: a
person makes ill use of their funds. Now think drugs:
a person makes ill use of their life. Now think slavery in
the 1600’s: a person makes ill use of another’s life. I
say this herd mentality must be stopped. Cameron is
right. We must put an end to this culture of ignorance.
All these voices we hear, that we have so quickly
dubbed Insanity, are indeed so--however, they come
not from within, but rather from without. They are the
voices of society, of the church, of doublethink. The
conflicts we feel within us are manifestations of
cognitive dissonance--a perfectly rational argument
confronts a “known truth.” The two clash, often to the
detriment of the subject’s mental well-being, and nine
times out of ten, reason is thrown out the window to
maintain the herd mentality. Think Galileo vs. the
Church: quoth the clergy, “We know what we believe,
don’t confuse us with the facts.” Of course, it’s easy to
identify the herd mentalities of centuries past. The real
question is, what ingrained values of today that we
don’t even think to question are impeding our rational

Consider for a moment our philosophy on pain. We are
led to believe, via a firmly ingrained value on a large
scale--a herd mentality--that pain, discomfort, exertion,
death and destruction are all inherently bad things.
Why is this? We have also seemed to blithely assume
that these are unavoidable, even necessary evils in the
world, essential elements in the human life. Why?
Well, let’s forego the wherefores for a few minutes and
fuse these ideas. What’s the message? AVOID THE
DEATH! Another quick fusion, and pursuit of the
ensuing idea to its logical conclusion--one of extending
a painful existence--and what’s the new message?
PROLONG THE MISERY! Is it any wonder that there are
so many problems in the world today?

Okay, let’s take a step back. Let’s look at the root of this
problem. I am reminded of the beauty and reason in
the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change, the courage to
change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the
difference.” Pain exists, not as an object, but as a
perception. Certain objects and events exist which can
cause pain, and not all of these can be changed or
even avoided. But a perception is purely mental.
Altering that perception, then, must be the key. Not
avoidance, but direct confrontation with the sensation,
and then rewiring one’s psyche to make one immune,
as to a disease. Over time, if you think about it, pain is
weakness leaving the body. Now, I’m not advocating
masochism here (although there’s something else
entirely to be said for that...). A very appropriate analogy
would be the tempering of steel. There doesn’t
necessarily need to be any pleasure involved, although
the experience of pain does heighten one’s sensitivity
to pleasure. After all, doesn’t a sore back make the
massage all the sweeter?

Still with me? Am I making sense? Has reason
overcome the cognitive dissonance presented by the
herd mentality yet? Do you agree, at least on some
level, on the practical value of tempering steel, and the
benefits of heightening your sensitivity to pleasure
while simultaneously desensitizing yourself to pain? If
not, then you have no further use for me, and more
importantly, until such time as you do understand, I have no
further use for you.

If you understand, and only if you understand, then read

I have a burn scar on the inside of my left forearm, three
searing scorchmarks running parallel to each other
and perpendicular to the bone. Each flaming lick is just
under thre inches long, and about a quarter-inch wide.
These scars were self-inflicted, one line at a time, over
a period of about a year during high school and college.
Such was my determination to overcome the herd
mentality and temper myself. Each is a third-degree
chemical burn that I watched eat through my skin, then
my fat, to my muscle tissue, without flinching or
whimpering, stopping only when I no longer felt pain
because I knew I’d destroyed my nerves. Then I
promptly cleaned it out with alcohol. I did this every
hour. School and sleep interfered with this slightly.
The first burn, I told my family I’d had a mishap with a
hot plate in chemistry class. I told my friends I’d had a
mishap while simultaneously washing, drying, packing,
and ironing my clothes for a trip. Eventually, of course,
they got their wires crossed and the shit hit the fan.
Nobody would listen because they thought I was
absolutely crazy, but they weren’t listening to the clear
rationale behind it. All they would let themselves see
was the hideous, jagged burn. They couldn’t see the
glory in destruction, the beauty in decay. The ingrained
value was still too strong. The cognitive dissonance
was too much for them: “There can be no reason
behind it, anyone capable of burning herself must be
insane.” But you know what?

Sanity is not statistical.