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The world's longest suicide note.

I write about life with bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression).

All opinions are my own.

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How to be a Philosopher

8 min read

This is a story about thinking...

Thought bubble

There's a bit of a monopoly on thinking. I mean, you're allowed to think and stuff, but you're not allowed to share those thoughts. Well, you can share your thoughts but nobody's going to care, because you're a nobody. People want to know the opinions of a rich spoiled heiress who's famous for having her sex tape plastered all over the internet, but not your opinions. People want to know the opinions of those whose opinions are already well publicised, and those who already have a platform and a group of devout followers. Nobody wants to hear any new thoughts, ideas or have their cherished philosophies challenged.

Thus, we arrive in the quagmire of modern day living. We are heavily weighed down by our attachment to notions of what we consider to be virtuous, conferring greater social status and conforming to acceptable social behaviour - norms, if you like.

If you wish to conduct a real-world philosophical experiment, try asking a person on a crowded bus or a train if you can sit where they're sitting. There's nothing written into law to say that you're not allowed to ask if you can sit down without a socially accepted reason, such as being old or pregnant, and I very much doubt you were taught by your parents or in school that you shouldn't ask for somebody to give up their seat for you, so where did the protocol come from? How did it become enshrined that we accept "they had it first" as validity for possession of something we desire?

One might argue that thieves are an example of an antisocial behavioural pattern that, nevertheless, allows a person to get the things that they need in life, just as any one of us might steal the milk from a cow, or the seeds from a plant - we see numerous examples of behaviour that is criminalised and stigmatised in some forms, but accepted and even revered in others. Why is it that we call welfare claimants "scroungers" and "parasites" but we don't we criticise bosses, managers, slave-owners and similarly idle people who profit from the labour of others?

I feel compelled to caveat what I'm writing, and say that there's a kind of absolute morality which decrees that any action which has a victim - rape and murder, for example - is always wrong, while theft and fraud could arguably be said to be victimless, because wealth always needs to be redistributed. In actual fact, in a godless world with no afterlife, there is no place for morality - when you're dead you're dead, so you might as well do whatever the hell you want, provided the profit to you is greater than the potential societally-imposed consequences.

If you were asked to say what the prevailing philosophy of the present day is, what would you reply? Would you say that we are still religious and subscribe to the ancient belief systems of the major religions? Would you say that we have adopted the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks? Would you say that we have adopted modern politico-economic philosophies, which could broadly be described as socialist or conservative? How would you react if I suggested that we are like a rudderless ship at the moment - we have no guiding philosophy and we are led by vapid celebrities who are incapable of imagining a culture beyond wealth worship and superficial bullshit.

The terrifying truth is that atheism and capitalism have won, ushering in an era of scientific progress, technological advancement and incredibly efficient industry, but without a guiding philosophy. Nobody seems to care that we've forgotten to ask a fundamental question: Why?

Why are we here? Why are we doing what we're doing? Why are we even alive?

Ultimately, we may come to realise that we might as well live completely hedonistic reckless irresponsible lives, because it's immediately rewarding and death is inevitable. In a godless world with no afterlife, what possible reason is there to consider anything other than maximising our pleasure, right now? There is nothing after this - we just die.

Because it's deeply disturbing to see your family and friends dying, and to know that we are mortal too, we arrive back at the need for religion: Comforting bullshit to allow us to cope with the fact that we're soon going to die. Religion offers an answer where there is none to be found. Science needs no opinion on what existed before time itself, because the question is nonsensical. Science needs no opinion on where our consciousness goes when we die, because it seems self-evident that it doesn't go anywhere at all - you just cease to exist.

Taking the thought experiment - life without any guiding philosophy - to its ultimate conclusion, we can see that we might as well perpetrate rapes and murders and leave the surface of the planet scorched and barren, as we wring every ounce of pleasure out of the present instant. Who cares about tomorrow when we're all going to die? This seems to have a ring of truth about it, when we consider the direction the human race is travelling in. Our laws are nothing versus the power of global capitalism, celebrity, wealth worship, drugs, slavery and the general abandonment of philosophies that sought to make the world a fairer place, where human excesses were curtailed and greed was considered sinful.

There is a vacuum at the moment, left behind when we rejected religion as superstitious bullshit, which of course it is, but religion is also the glue between the pooh - religion at least gave us a kind of consensus of opinion about right and wrong, and why it's better to live life with some view to improving the world for future generations. Governments, politicians and civil servants are not the right people to become a new church. We cannot rely on power-hungry busybodies to provide us with any kind of societal structure, because rules and regulations are nothing if there's no guiding philosophy that people subscribe to. It's a bit like speeding: we all know what the speed limit is, but very rarely do we feel like it applies to us, because rules are there to be broken.

We have created a generation who believe in nothing and want to commit suicide. We have created a generation who are smarter than ever before, but who have nothing to look forward to, and we don't have an answer for them when they ask: Why was I even born?

If you're looking to me for an answer to the big question - why are we here? - then I can give it to you but you're not going to like it. In fact, it rather deserves a blog post of its own, although I've hinted at my answer when I mentioned the scorched earth, created by raping and pillaging all the planet's resources, and the death of consciousness. I've written before about quantum immortality. You really don't want to hear all that stuff again - it's not very nice, even if there's a pretty decent chance it could be correct and it'd be really easy to prove.

Are you still looking for an answer to the big question? If you are then I have good news [sic]. The argument for not being hedonistic and short-termist is that one person can make a difference. Of course, one person on their own is just a blithering idiot who can rant and rave in isolation. We might see that those who live their lives as an example to others are often taken advantage of and lose out because they don't cheat, steal and otherwise conduct themselves without a shred of moral decency. What's the point in voicing an opinion in a world that doesn't care who you are or and whether you live or die? Well, there's a slim chance that your tiny contribution might become part of a bigger movement - a billion whispers become a deafening roar. In a world where no almighty church is going to impose itself on you and declare any wayward views heretical, we have both collective and individual responsibility to formulate our own life philosophies, that are hopefully capable of improving the world, rather than continuing to perpetuate patterns of behaviour that will destroy everything.

Our current thought leaders have provided nothing except the perpetuation of the status quo, the nihilistic vacuum left behind by the decline of religion, and the boom of free-market capitalism. The free market believes in nothing. Politicians believe in nothing. We can no longer survive in a world where we are led by leaders who simply tell us what we want to hear. We can no longer survive as a species when we worship those who exhibit the least capability for free-thinking, the highest preference for elitism and the concentration of the monopoly on thinking in a few powerful hands.

To call myself a writer, a thinker, an intellectual - these things are laughable, of course. However, why do you think that?

 

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Concentration

9 min read

This is a story about depression and burnout...

Lime cordial

If there's one thing I hate, it's a long drawn out journey to the grave. I really don't want to be on my deathbed, remembering the past, but unable to distinguish one day from any other. So many of us are in a routine of waking up, pressing the "snooze" button, having a shower, getting dressed, going to boring bullshit jobs, coming home, watching TV, preparing some food, loading the dishwasher, doing washing & ironing, and having joyless sex or masturbating to pornography - all purely to relieve the animal urges to copulate, eat, drink, piss, shit and sleep.

Life offers very few opportunities for memorable experiences, especially if you have made the ethical decision not to clone your genes through the impregnation of yourself or somebody else. This does not automatically mean that I consider myself morally superior or in a position to hand down judgements from my high horse. To write emotively on one topic does not logically confer that I hold negative views on those who have embarked up the one-way street that is motherhood or fatherhood. Please; do not send me your protestations that being a parent is both tough and rewarding. I KNOW that parenthood is something that I have no first-hand experience of. I DO respect everyone's unique set of life decisions - everyone's gotta live their own life as best as they see fit, and are able to do, playing the cards that have been randomly dealt to them.

My approach to life remains very much the same as it's always been: high risk, high reward.

I joked with a girl - mocking her - that I had fathered a string of illegitimate bastard children, and was being mercilessly pursued by the Child Support Agency (CSA) for money to pay for the upkeep of these offspring that I had carelessly brought into the world. She thought I was being serious.

So, where is all my wealth hidden? I've been a top-bracket taxpayer for most of my working life. Surely I can't have squandered so much disposable income on drink & drugs, and also been able to have a successful career. This is either unthinkable, or grossly unfair that I've had such a surplus, but yet still managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

I've paid for convenience whenever I've been able to. Why would I clean my toilet, when I could pay somebody less than I earn per hour? While the cleaner has the close encounter with the porcelain throne, I could be working on a more glamourous project that pays very handsomely. It's a false economy to clean your own toilet, just as it is to do all of the many household chores, which can be done by a professional housekeeper.

When you apply this cost:benefit analysis to your entire life, you end up spending 37.5 hours a week reading news websites and planning your next holiday; enjoying a lifestyle that is approaching the much vaunted "age of leisure".

If you think I'm lazy, you're wrong. Only a crazy person would do the same repetitive tasks that they could easily automate, or train somebody who's prepared to do the work - subcontracted or outsourced - for less money, which leaves you with a net profit AND you don't have to do the shitty job. Repeat this process, because it is scalable, and you're on the right path... assuming you want to be rich and have lots of spare time. Perhaps you LIKE punching meaningless numbers into spreadsheets. Perhaps you WANT to clean toilets.

I looked at a list of the seven deadly sins, and realised that I could be a poster boy for Christian immorality.

If you've ever taken an interest in astrology and the signs of the zodiac, then you're easily fooled by writing that is deliberately ambiguous, leaving the interpretation to the reader, to apply to his or her own life. Religion has made a healthy living out of contrived platitudes that are completely meaningless in the context of the realities of human existence. The Bible, the Qu'ran, the Torah and all the other religious texts are so written as to be [mis]interepreted by the faithful flock.

One might as well say that if you breathe air, drink water, consume fats, proteins, carbohydrates, salts, amino acids and other vitamins and minerals, as well as trace amounts of every element & chemical compound, then you're a doomed sinner. If you urinate, defecate, ejaculate and perspirate, you're going straight to Hell. The demons that walk amongst us, corrupting our innocence and threatening to plunge society into chaos and destruction, are those who fornicate, copulate and enjoy fellatio or cunnilingus. The fact that all of these things are encoded into the very fabric of our corporeal vessels - the DNA of almost every cell in our body - is a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of those who are so easily conned by priests, vicars, preachers, witch doctors, shaman, tarot card readers, astrologers and other snake-oil salesmen and women.

I imagine I'd be pretty bummed if I found out I had an incurable terminal illness that was going to cut my life short, versus my expected lifespan. What would I do about it though? Which god should I pray to?

As a wise friend of mine said, you can be tricked by your genes into believing that love and hormonal bonding are real and tangible. If you think that parents, grandparents, great grandparents - and so on - are somehow going to end up 'less dead' than the people who didn't try to clone themselves, you're wrong. Even in the most anthropocentric & egocentric of interpretations of theoretical physics, you will have to witness the death of everybody you know, as well as the destruction of the planet, the solar system and the galaxies. Eventually entropy will be victorious over the entire universe, with time itself ceasing to be a meaningful concept and nowhere for you - or indeed anything - to exist.

If you believe in god(s) capable of making man and a world fit for human habitation, then you must also accept that this power is equally capable of destruction. He taketh away as much as He giveth - you can surely see this with your own eyes. This is the other side of the same coin that says that an infinitely small point, with infinite density and infinite energy, suddenly exploded into a universe. Following the same reasoning, either the universe will eventually collapse back into itself, by the force of its own gravitational pull, or it will expand until it is so uniformly cool and sparse that it is indistinguishable from the most perfect of vacuums - absolute nothingness.

I look at the world through a madman's eyes - I've read so much and delved so deep into the realm of the theoretical, proven in physical experiments as well as experiments that one can conduct through logical thought alone. I've seen, in my mind's eye, things that cannot be unseen. As Douglas Adams joked, if you see too much of the universe all at once it will destroy you - it's the ultimate torment; the ultimate death.

In an uncaring universe, I can see why people would seek comfort in the fairytale worlds of sky monsters and star signs, but it's pure childishness and immaturity. However, I envy the blissfully ignorant; I envy the blindly faithful, unshakable in their wilful stupidity.

I've worked very hard to master the machines of pure logic and reason - the computers - as well as spending most of my hard-earned wealth on lengthy periods, where I have absented myself from the demands of menial day-to-day existence. I told you that you were wrong about me having squandered my money on drink and drugs. The vast bulk of my conscious waking hours have been spent in startling sobriety; completely crystal clear thinking.

I carved three deep gashes the length of my forearm, with blood gushing out aplenty, before the arrival of two Metropolitan Police officers interrupted me. I can give you the long and exact chain of decisions that led me to do this, which were robustly defended by a logical thesis. That the police arrived was not a surprising outcome for me; in fact I had already anticipated everything that happened that day. The only thing that surprised me was that I was able to bandage my self-inflicted injuries using an actual first aid kit, which I discovered by chance, rather than having to resort to sanitary towels, kitchen roll and sellotape.

You would think that I would be completely insane, completely alcoholic, completely drug addicted or perfectly healthy, contented and conspicuously rich. Scratch the surface, and every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

If you think the world's gonna end, why hasn't it already? If you think everything's held in stable equilibrium, you simply haven't looked outside your front door: it's fucking war out there and nothing is stable at all. Civilisations destroy themselves and species go extinct - there's evidence of it everywhere.

Thus, you discover me - a distilled and concentrated form of sinner; completely unrepentant and embodying everything you were told in church to fear and shun; the very epitome of evil. Yet, I'm made of the same stuff as you.

I invite you to judge me; to critiqué me. I invite this criticism, because how can good exist, without evil?

 

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What Would Jesus Do?

7 min read

This is a story about seeing the light...

Sign from above

Nobody preaches louder than the convert. I've been accused of speaking like a sanctimonious prick on several occasions, but let's just have a little think about a book I've never read, shall we? I had the good fortune of avoiding almost all religious indoctrination, despite attending Church of England schools, the occasional event at Easter, Christmas and observing a few other antiquated religious customs.

So, let's start with revenge.

I'm pretty sure that Jesus wasn't a "never forget" and "make those bastards pay for what they did to us" grudge holding kind of guy. In fact, despite my lack of bible study, I'm pretty sure there was something he said about turning the other cheek and forgiveness. Yes, now I think about it, all that "eye for an eye" stuff definitely wasn't attributable to Big J and his disciples. You could say that bloodthirsty acts of revenge and 'pre-emptive' strikes are definitely not Christian at all.

What kind of dude was Jesus anyway? Like I say, I never read the bible, went to Sunday school, went to church or got taught much about his life, but I know this: he didn't think being disgustingly wealthy was a great idea.

I probably can't name all 12 disciples, but if I had to guess I'd say: John, Paul, George, Ringo, Sleepy, Dopey, Dasher, Dancer, Thomas, Henry, Edward and Gordon. For some reason I think that Matthew and Luke should be on that list, but those names don't exactly sound like fishermen and farmers from the Middle East.

What I can tell you about Matthew and Luke, is that they both reckoned that Jesus used to say that we should stop building piles of treasure on Earth. Both those dudes said that Jesus was all about giving up your worldly possessions so you could donate to the poor. The upshot being, Jesus wasn't intent on being a billionaire, building big tower blocks with his name on and decorating everything with blinging gold.

The Bible - although I've never read it - comes in two parts and is translated from Aramaic. Basically, it's a Syrian book... you know, the place where Saint George the patron saint of England came from. The most popular English translation runs to some 750,000+ words. It's not all the disciples' account of Jesus' ramblings and crazy shit that happened to him. There are also some fairly simple commandments in there.

The first three of the famous ten commandments are all about God being a really jealous imaginary dude who demands your undivided attention. If the commandments were in order of importance, numero uno is that you're not allowed to so much as think about another God. In fact, it's not until commandment number 6 that we get onto trivial things like not killing other people. In fact, so many commandments are given over to not saying God is a stinky pooh-pooh head and other weird rules, that rape didn't even make the list. No to murder. No to adultery. No to theft. Rape... well, it's not as big of a deal as worshiping an idol is it?

In fact, most of The Bible is full of absolute garbage. Exodus 23:19 forbids us from eating cheeseburgers. Leviticus tells us we can't get tattoos, cut the hair on the side of our head, trim our beards and most bizarrely of all, you can't mix cotton and wool clothing.

"a garment mingled of linen and woollen [shall not] come upon thee"

So, basically, we know that to study The Bible is to study a laughably backwards culture and a book written by many authors, with many agendas, over several ancient periods of time. You simply can't use it as an instruction manual for modern life.

Now, back to the original question: what would Jesus do?

It's a fairly serious question. If the dude was alive today - walking around in his sandals and his dusty robes - what kind of shit would piss him off and how would he act?

I'm pretty sure he'd be straight into the temples of the money lenders, turning their tables over and kicking their arses for the sin of usury. We can be certain that Jesus was no fan of banks and financial services.

On the pro-life debate, Jesus seemed pretty sympathetic towards mothers and the choices they want to make with their own bodies. Basically, the bible's pretty clear that other people's unborn foetuses and fertilised eggs are none of your goddam business, as explained in this passage from the bible:

"As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything" -- Ecclesiastes 11:5

Most telling of all, the bible contains this passage:

"[an aborted foetus] does not enjoy life's good things, and also has no burial, I say that an [abortion] is better than [an unwanted child]... [that] has not seen the sun or known anything" -- Ecclesiastes 6:3-5

Jesus would have one thing to say to those pro-life people who harass poor women who are trying to get into abortion clinics: "he who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her". In other words, who the fuck are you to judge? Who the fuck are you to intimidate a poor frightened woman who's faced with an incredibly difficult decision? Jesus would be pretty mad about supposedly Christian people, acting with so little compassion and forgiveness.

All this Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiment would certainly piss Jesus right off. He would be angry as fuck about the way that the wealthy West is slamming the door in the face of refugees they created, through bombing and drone strikes. What part of "thou shalt not kill" didn't you understand? What part of "love your neighbour as you love yourself" got mangled into "look after your own"?

How dare Theresa May - an alleged Christian - and Donald Trump, leader of "God's own country" carry on in such an unchristian manner. There isn't an ounce of Christianity in these greedy megalomaniacs, who care nothing for the poor and needy.

I'm an atheist by default, because my scientific studies have answered questions and provided truth that makes all religious faith look like a mental illness, but the sentiment - the morality - of Jesus Christ is perfectly relevant, and a useful guide for us all when thinking about how we should treat one another.

I'm never going to become some born-again Christian, repent my sins and start banging on about The Bible, but when I weep at the cruel, callous, greedy, selfish and inhumane leadership demonstrated by British and US politicians and business leaders, I do sometimes think we need a decent human being as a moral beacon for us all. Aspiring to be like the fanny-grabbing billionaire bigot Donald Trump is going to be a rocket ride straight to a metaphorical hell.

Religion has been perverted by a clergy who've lined their own pockets and committed atrocious acts of paedophilia, as well as other abuses of power. We can reject religion, while also saying that Jesus Christ sounded like a pretty cool dude. The world would be a better place if we all tried to be a bit more like Jesus: a bit more Christian.

I really don't give a fuck what fictitious character we decide we love and want to emulate - perhaps Robin Hood? - but reality TV idols and wealth worship has taken us to a terrible, terrible place.

This is obviously written from my hospital bed, where I'm a bit loopy from kidney failure and painkillers, but I hope my writing is still reasonably cogent. All I can tell you is how I cry and cry and cry when I read the news right now, because the action of our leaders doesn't match their rhetoric about peace, compassion and care for the poor and vulnerable.

 

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Indoctrinated & Institutionalised

5 min read

This is a story about brainwashing...

Psychiatric hospital

How do you think that somebody who has worked for the best part of 20 years in the investment banking technology sector, mostly as an IT consultant, would re-adjust to being under lock and key in a psychiatric hospital? The answer is: very easily.

Hospitals and the NHS are a home from home for anybody who's worked for an organisation with hundreds of thousands of employees. The ways that large organisations function are largely the same. The way that systems and processes are supposed to control large numbers of people, are nearly identical.

Being in the loony bin was welcome relief from the bullshit day job, but it's not like I had absented myself from all responsibilities. I still had to have my wits about me to avoid being medicated against my will and put under a 'section' - involuntary commitment to a secure facility, by rule of law - which could have seen my 2 week voluntary stay extended anywhere from 28 days to 6 months.

How did I manage it so easily? Perhaps it's because I knew I could leave any time I wanted to, but perhaps it could be because nearly 20 years of going to a shit office to do a shit job, has kinda prepared me for the monotony, rhythm and routine of spending weeks on end trapped somewhere I don't want to be.

There was a danger that just the very act of asking to leave could have triggered the doctors to decide to force me to stay longer. I knew that I had to remain calm, and give the medical team  enough of a peek at my psyche to be able to make a judgement that I was safe to release back into the wilderness.

The psychiatrist who took me under his care was in two minds, after 6 days, whether he was going to insist on 'committing' me, so that he'd get 28 or so days to poke around inside my head. Naturally, most people would freak out, if they found out that their liberty was about to be taken away from them. It's a game of brinksmanship: who's going to blink first.

Obviously, we don't 'commit' people any more to asylums. Instead we detain them under a section of the Mental Health Act, and put them in secure psychiatric facilities. You're no longer a loony in the loony bin. You're a "service user" in a "care facility". Of course, I'm not saying that the function is not useful or should not be trusted. I'm just pointing out that the names of things have been changed.

Bizarrely, if you say "I'm going to kill myself, I need to be locked up" you are very unlikely to be locked up. If you walk up to the hospital reception desk and use their phone to contact the switchboard, ask to be connected to the bleep holder for Psychiatric Liaison, and explain frankly your situation, you will have an amusing conversation with the poor Psychiatrist who has to follow official channels, but you're not going to get anywhere. The times that I have been admitted as an inpatient to a psychiatric facility, it has just taken time & patience. Only the truly desperate will sit in Accident & Emergency for 13 hours just patiently waiting for help.

Conversely, if you say "I'm not mad, I'm fine" once you're in the system, or in any way try to rush the process along, you're going to end up held down on the floor with somebody injecting Risperidone and Haloperidol in you, and you might wake up 40 years later, shuffling around the corridors of some institution, with the marked side effects of powerful psychiatric drugs causing you to make involuntary facial movements.

You can't fight the system. You can't fight the frustrating fact that you'll never get ahead in life and must instead sit at a desk keeping a seat warm, just so that your boss can appoint somebody from outside the company to come in and be incompetent at the job you were hoping to be promoted into, even though you were experienced and qualified to do it. You can't fight the frustrating fact that your miserable boring existence, helping the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, is making you pretty depressed, and you really want to fuck everything off and watch everything burn down.

Who is mad and who is sane? That doctor who just declared you to be mentally ill probably talks to their imaginary friend called Dob or Gob or Dog or Dod (or is it God?) who really knows? There's no proof that their imaginary friend exists, just like the doctor has no proof that the voices you hear aren't real and you aren't actually the Son of Dob, resurrected on Earth.

The invisible line between sane and insane is very blurry, when billions of people genuinely believe in magic, invisible entities that don't exist, and have absolute faith that some children's fairy tales are actually instructions that should be devoutly and literally followed to the letter as some kind of prescription for life.

It seems highly irreverent to say it, but people need to speak up, because the loonies are actually in charge of the asylum, when we elect and hand over power to people who believe in their invisible friends, fairy tales and magic.

By the way, for the record, I don't hear voices and I don't think I'm Jesus. But then, saying that kinda makes me sound a bit mad, doesn't it?

 

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