In the comic Calvin & Hobbs, Calvin liked to blame his misbehaving on “the existential horror of it all”.

Do you ever think about this? What makes us different from the animals is an augmented awareness of self, an awareness of passing time, an awareness of the need to plan, and an awareness of our own mortality.

That’s a heavy burden compared to the rest of the animals. My psych prof says that those who go crazy from the pressure are best helped by noting the magnitudes of people who don’t. What keeps them healthy and sane?

So how do you cope with the burden of the Human existential “horror” and get on with your day?




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  1. Author
    griz 12 months ago

    It’s the healthy non-anxious people who are the greater mystery!

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  2. Jear77 12 months ago

    what if the process of making us conscious is *meant* to make the “average joe” insane… which is why we have so many mental pathologies?

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    • Author
      griz 12 months ago

      @Jear77
      The number of people who are not pathologized by self conscious awareness would seem to disprove this supposition.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz undiagnosed.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        Wishful thinking.

        There’s a lot of justification in remaining broken when one is convinced everyone is broken. Why even try being “fixed”?
        (The heart of nihilism)

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz no. More to the point, they “deal” with their brokenness. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But until you can show me a single person who has zero problems with *anyone* for their entire lives, and no problems associated with said relationships at a mental level, i will assume that people are simply choosing to cover up their problems because they don’t want to ask for help.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        To successfully deal with brokenness means to be fixed. And to accomplish this a few times makes one more proficient at being fixed and remaining fixed.

        To have problems with others just means we are self-aware individuals trying to become something more than just chimpanzees!
        We become a more civilized and intelligent species, as we work out civilized and intelligent solutions to our problems.
        And we become more broken when we expect every little thing to break us.

        There’s nothing too “rocket science” about this assertion.

        But there’s a lot of psychological illness to be caught by having intimate association with the notion that everyone is broken and just hiding it.

        Stagnation and death become all that one can pay homage to. (Nihilism, a most virulent ideology)

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz are you sure dealing with said brokenness repeatedly is not simply a band aid solution when something way more of a drastic solution is needed, such as a tourniquet… or removal of the limb entirely? By dealing with the brokenness repeatedly, all you end up doing is creating scar tissue. Not every wound is suitable for this type of a thing. Is this really wisdom… or the height of foolishness? A reasonable person would think about the likelihood of the wound (even a mental/ psychological one) festering or being reopened, before re-exposure to the source that created it.

        You say that having problems with others is simply a byproduct of self-awareness. If this is so, my assertion that it is not a blessing in any sense of the word, but the most dire, most insidious of curses is actually proven to be true!

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        I am absolutely positive that healing is better than lopping off a limb. Proper tending of a wound is the key; and then you don’t have to chop off huge aspects of yourself because you’ve let them fester and get infected.
        And Beyond the healing of wounds physical psychological or spiritual, there is learning how to fix the underlying cause of a lot of them.

        And I am absolutely positive that fixing the underlying cause is superior to just fixing or healing all the time; and that it will mean you cannot be hurt in that way again so deeply.

        But don’t deal with it properly, and suffering only increases.

        The problem is that you have toxified your outlook on life so much, that extreme and destructive solutions are all you have left.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz not really. Anyone else in my situation(s) would have resorted to literal murder long ere now. Cutting someone… or several people out of my life – is the greatest of mercy!

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        And it’s to your credit that you stayed your hand.

        But it’s a valid observation that you’ve toxified your outlook on life; in part as natural consequence to that ideology you gave so much of your life to. And I would like to try and help you fix some of the damage it caused.

        Your pattern very closely mirrors something that Nietzsche predicted almost 130 years ago.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz i’m not the one basing their entire existence (and the existence of everything else) on a force that needs a special mindset to understand vs. understood and documented evidence/ science. No dice.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        Contemplating transcendence, requires a transcendent process. (That means “beyond selfishness”).

        We have tantalizing evidence that one comes to this humbly; and abundant caution throughout History that trying to come to this arrogantly amplifies the suffering in the world to horrendous degree.

        Part of wisdom is recognizing an untenable stance before we’ve sunk in over our head.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz i have no need of something i can’t reasonably predict, use, or affect. Sorry.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        Then you have no need for yourself?

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz I have limited control over myself. In the end; no. What use is a dead husk?

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        Fertilizer.

        If one is no longer vibrant and growing, they are just fertilizer for those who are.

        But why the hell would anyone choose this for themselves? Especially when they are just as free to choose meaning beyond just being a decompositional stink.

        You really should read some Nietzsche. This is exactly what he prophesied would happen with the death of God in our own minds (the highest transcendent meaning and ideal): nothing but enslaving ideologies and nihilism.
        This is the blood he said we would never be able to wash off our hands.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz i never said god is dead… i said he never existed to begin with… or at minimum there is no proof that holds up to the 73%! There’s a vast difference. It seems incredibly bizarre that people live as if something is true when all evidence shows the contrary. People of faith have often *worse* things happen to them. To me that would be a red flag indicating that whatever your beliefs are, aren’t true!

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        You don’t get to decide that for the whole species. The concept of God has been if foundational underpinning of our civilization our language and are very self-awareness for hundreds of thousands of years.

        What can a human prove to an ant? Doesn’t ants inability to grasp something make that thing non-existent?

        Arrogance is no more a virtue than hypocrisy or the ability to self-enslave. But feel free to run all those flags up your flagpole and see how life turns out for you.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz i never said god is dead… i said he never existed to begin with… or at minimum there is no proof that holds up to the 73%! There’s a vast difference. It seems incredibly bizarre that people live as if something is true when all evidence/ studies shows the contrary. People of faith have still often have bad things happen to them… sometimes even *worse* things. To me that would be a red flag indicating that whatever your beliefs are, if rhere is no insulating effect to tbe perils of life, they aren’t true!

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77

        One can have no proof of the joys of a fellowship one has never had, and is constantly finding excuses to avoid.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz what joys are possible when you can’t be vastly better off than others in your demographic? Once again it cycles back to the 73%. Anything less is nothimg more placebo in my eyes.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        Again we come back to how one can assess things they will not allow themselves to experience?

        My joy and peace is, well . . . . transcendent over most of the other people I meet, in my demographic or otherwise (based on their behaviors, linked to Matt 7:16, linked to the psychological observation that people inevitably act out the things they feel are “real” and “true”).

        If it’s placebo, it’s one damn powerful placebo, positively affecting not just me but people and perhaps even reality around me; and with no negative side-effects in evidence.

        (BTW, religion and ideology had exactly zero to do with is phenomena, except to show me were it could not be found).

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz yet put you in literal hell… would you still cling to the delusion? Hopefully not.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        What difference do you think there might be between a personal hell and a literal hell?

        Because I’ve spent my time in the personal one . . . and phenomenologically it was as real as any literal hell I’ve read about. There’s not many people I couldn’t shock with a retelling of just parts of it.

        And my escape from it was directly and solely linked to what you want to call “a delusion”.

        So if “the delusion” has proven itself to defeat hell itself . . . what is there that it cannot defeat?

        (Remembering that you’re still clinging to a lot of ideological baggage that as of yet you’ve not been able to divest yourself of. Whereas I dropped it long ago.)

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz no. Literal… All eternity.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        What’s an abused child’s concept of eternity?

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz Anything of this life, anything of this earth makes the concept of eternity seem like a joke, so you can’t say… as you’ve not lived for eternity yet. never ending. Without ceasing existence. Constant pain. Constant torment. That’s what hell is described as… and you claim to have a god that loves the ENTIRE world. No. I said in another conversation, that god pre-ordaned, pre-knew, pre-choose who he would save. You can’t have verses that say in John 6:39 “none that my father has given me (note the past tense, this is deliberate) I shall lose” and still think that it’s not a random lottery!

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        for God so loved the world . , .

        You are just picking and choosing the parts that will let you start hell early!

        And denying yourself any meaning in life that could give all of this even a bit of worth.

        I believe I mentioned something about self pathologizing?

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz then Jesus’ death was a sham and he died for nothing… talk about parental abuse!

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @Jear77
        The nature of ideologies is that they require one to stand on increasingly shaky ground to prop it up.

        The Holy Spirit is what gives the meaning that keeps the meta-conscious mind from pathologizing; and Jesus’ one and only spiritual task was to make this available to us even in our immaturity.
        Any thoughts of why an ideology would need to mistake love and sacrifice . . . as abuse?

        You totally missed the Gospel of Christ, because there was no spiritual process. I’ve asked you this several times and you’ve avoided the question.

        You tried to “labor” your way into the earthly rewards you wanted. And the Bible that you had in your hands for decades told you this wouldn’t work.

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      • Jear77 12 months ago

        @griz labor? No. You’ve got the wrong concept. I sought grace, begging for forgiveness (the person in the back of the temple)… even when I dealt with others. That mindset of “nothing you can do is ever enough. You are unworthy” was VERY clear. I sought the holy spirit’s guidance for my actions- seeking wisdom, which it’s said that he will give to those who ask. But none came about to get me employed.

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  3. barryjack 12 months ago

    Don’t some animals “plan” in a sense? Maybe less thought goes into it aside from “I will starve.”?

    Maybe that’s the ticket? “I don’t want to die yet” “I don’t want to starve” Take action on staying alive and satiating that hunger? The rest of the stuff is just extra turmoil?

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    • Author
      griz 12 months ago

      @barryjack
      A good question.

      Planning requires an awareness of passing time. I’m not aware of any studies to date that prove they have this. And there might even be some that indicate they don’t.
      For now we are just supposing and perhaps anthrophizing.

      Our awareness of the future creates a responsibility to that future. Is that extra turmoil or just the cost of admission to Humanity?

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      • barryjack 12 months ago

        @griz As far as an understanding of the passing of time? I doubt they keep a calendar. They sleep when they’re tired, eat when they’re hungry, etc.

        What about animals that hibernate or go inactive during the winter? The cold and lack of food, they’re aware of that. They may not plan, but they do adapt to conditions. They’ll bulk up to prepare for that.

        It’s not planning in the sense of “I will do this on this day at this exact time”. We did that. We have given ourselves more needs outside of just eating and sleeping though, so we need a nice handy way of keeping track of all the outside information.

        https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347213003060 Here’s a study discussing how the size of an animal is linked to their perception of time.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @barryjack
        That’s a good article and I thank you for sharing it.

        But I’m not sure if greater temporal acuity is the same thing as conscious awareness of time. if it did that should mean a great number of species exhibiting superior temporal planning abilities over humans. And perhaps psychologically, exhibiting more of the behavioral signs and signals of existential distress!

        I think this study ultimately deals with tracking ability of fast moving objects. And this very closely tied to the very primitive threat detection and food procurement instincts (amygdalic sub-personalities).

        Does this equate with a kind of self-aware temporal intelligence? It might. Or it could just be evolution-honed instinct ( driven by the amygdala and not the cortex).
        Answering this question doesn’t seem within the scope of this study.

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      • barryjack 12 months ago

        @griz It occurred to me shortly after posting that it was a bit different than what we were talking about. My apologies there. Was interesting read from what I was able to.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @barryjack
        I appreciate the spirit of the genuine apology. It is one of the more beautiful aspects of the human spirit so far as I am concerned.
        But I didn’t register any offense that needed an apology. (Or if I did I got over it quickly enough that it was almost as if it wasn’t there!)

        What I love about conversation with intelligent and curious people are all the possibilities. You may think you know where a conversation is going but they take on a life of their own.

        I had not heard of that study, and you’re bringing it to my attention was a gift. I think our default condition as humans is that we want to be right in what we think and believe. And a good study like this one, or a point of Truth, presents us with two scenarios.
        Do I want to discover what is Truth (amend myself)? Or pretend that I am truth (amend reality)?

        It was a good exercise and I have you to thank for it!
        So this reply is more about the conversation which I am enjoying! I’ll post another reply about the actual topic.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @barryjack
        I thought I knew where to look regarding the question of whether animals are aware of themselves in time the same way humans are. But there is an obvious lack of data both for and against the supposition.

        Meta-consciousness within time, would first require meta-consciousness. And the data on which animals have this is quite variable depending on the definitions people use.

        Humans perform our “awareness of time, feats of planning” in the prefrontal cortex.
        In the studies on this are very confusing as well. Most mammals have the beginning of one. But how well developed does it need to be to have a conscious awareness of oneself in time sufficient to plan ahead?

        And then there’s the octopus a lowly mollusk who’s brain structure is nothing like ours, who seems to be able to count out the exact number of shells that are needed to construct a shelter for its body size.

        So we’re left scratching our heads on this one. And perhaps we can only come back to the observation that animals do not seem to suffer the same amount of psychological ailments due to the “existential horrors” of self-aware existence as humans do

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      • fosheet 12 months ago

        @barryjack they do plan in a sense… Storing their food for the winter wake.

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      • Author
        griz 12 months ago

        @fosheet
        Most of that is instinctual programming. Reproduce the environmental cues even artificially and the behavior is triggered.

        Remove the cues and the behavior stops.

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  4. fosheet 12 months ago

    I combat the daily “crazies” by giving myself a little bit to be ok with being completely fucking oblivious to everything around me, catch my breath, smile, count to 10… Then back at it again…

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