Too much reality is not good for the soul; the mind included. The most over-rated of themes (or clichéd messages, whatever you want to call it) in cinema and in contemporary culture is that experience is of great benefit to one’s self. Life couldn’t be further from the truth. Experience often makes the spirits dower and the soul corrupted with the weaknesses and vices of others. Reflection and autonomy are the greatest virtues – not social experience and herd think, as the goons of all societies will tell you whether Liberal, Conservative, Marxist or Fascist. For without any type of introspection (analysis of one’s self and one’s proper and ideal relation to the world and others) and the psychological traits of an independent mind (without which any meaningful introspection is either impossible or becomes tainted with the whims and interests of others) all virtue is mere happenstance or a product of convention rather than a product of the rational mind and virtuous soul acting upon what is right for its own sake, rather than to conform to the dictates of others.
Those who have been exposed to too much reality are those who do all they can to have their minds not rationally process it but rather be overwhelmed by it or evade it – often this can be the same thing. Religion for example is a case of reality evasion – in the detrimental or mental sense, the proper escape from reality I speak of is simply physically but always attempting to process it and better understand it mentally – and for the individual to feel incompetent to make any significant or authentic decision in deciding what is right and fair. Instead the religious (even those who worship at the altar of State or commerce) wish to evade making a choice of morality or their own value and instead have a systematic approach, or rather a “herd” approach to value. One has value because God grants one value. One has value based on the dictates of the free-market and one’s ability to pursue hedonistic pursuits within it. One has value because one’s Government grants one’s rights and one is deemed good as long as one is a law-abiding citizen who follows the rules and does as he is told. All of these standards deal with acceptance and compliance, rather than questioning and creativity which are the true marks of greatness in humanity. The Anarchist realizes that one may not evade reality mentally, and must immerse one’s self intimately both mentally and physically to know the source of the world’s faults and to change them. However, Fatalism is somewhat contradictory of Anarchism (to the extent that Anarchism pre-supposes protest and other forms of social non-violent resistance) in surrendering this material world to those who create such standards and expectations of drudgery and mental slavery – but without others assistance Fatalism is not a glib man surrendering the world out of weakness or despair but a sober individual who realizes that social resistance without others is either a complete impossibility, effectively meaningless (at-least in the sense of being different than intellectual and individual resistance) and even dangerous to the individual in much of the world.
An example of those who wish to escape mentally from life would be those I witnessed at a Black Flag concert several months back. I’ve been meaning to write an essay on this, but I wasn’t entirely sure how to link it with anything meaningful or poignant. First allow me to describe the experience. A rough half-hour of enjoyable conversation with roughly like-minded individuals (at-least when politics and general social attitudes are concerned), following a few hours of ear-deafening, mind-blending noise that was so loud and sharp that any musical or aesthetic appreciation was impossible. Moshing was enjoyable for all of ten minutes, and that was with inventing new dances or putting old-style dances into the mosh-pit both to be ironic and as a source of amusement from all the repetitive shoving and being shoved that appears to be the height of entertainment at such venues. I’ve been to basement punk shows where there is some moshing, but the music can still be heard as music rather than as piercing incomprehensible noise. There must be indeed something behind Schopenhauer’s allegation that the dumber and duller one is the more one can tolerate loud noise.
Though I haven’t stated it explicitly yet, I would be surprised if you haven’t yet pieced together that I found such an attraction an ideal expression of those who wish to escape from all modes of thought rather than delve into the world and worlds of one’s own creation through mental activity. And these are people who largely identify as Anarchist or Socialist (and understand what these words actually mean), understand that religions are corrupt and fictitious and are intelligent enough to know that the virtues of “success” created by society are not one’s worth idealizing – at-least from the roughly dozen people I talked to before the warfare on hearing began. If people who at-least on paper are Anarchists can enjoy such mind-killing rot than there is little hope for an effective movement of passionate and like-minded individuals ever acting to influence meaningful change in this world – that is conscious and rigorous (and therefore effective) Civil Disobedience. We saw Occupy Wall St. yes. But those where individuals who did not think of broadening their movement into a political action of revolt that could become both a political party and a form of organized resistance to the lords of the current parties, to Representative Democracy as a whole and to the living of vicarious existence (that is religions and Capitalists organizing to corrupt one’s soul and then say that they “represent” the will and goodness of the people and express what they truly feel and crave after they’ve raped their minds to lust for the rape of their bodies) that is done through the profiteers, users of force (Government men) and holy men who organize to the world and create the individual to have the individual exist only as a medium and tool of their wills and material vessel of their ideology which could not exist without zombies who have drunk the Kool-aid.
What Occupy Wall St. needed was protest in living and action rather than simply protest in the conventional sense of the word. To organize with the Green Party (as a blanket for all Left-wing causes and sentiments until a Socialist Party had a chance in Hell of winning) and refuse to comply with the ends and means of State-Capitalist society via general strike. Particularly in fields where the supply of laborers able to perform the desired tasks to make a profit for the Capitalist would be ideal, though the main sources of revenue for most of the Capitalists are in fairly routine jobs that don’t require much education or specialization at-all. Also to make noise and not rely on the corporate news propaganda machine which is getting less and less attention daily. Of course Anarchists and Socialists do not rely on such news avenues, but they seem to have done a less-than satisfactory job of marketing their websites and periodicals of pulp to purchase. How they can improve outside the obvious answer of more of a presence in quantity (or perhaps somehow getting more attention in social media) I’m generally ignorant of.
It is true that something will always remain impossible as-long as people claim it is so. But that does not change human nature, and the fact that much of human corruption, ignorance, apathy and self-interest seem to be constants to varying extents the world over. I will not say progress is impossible – this would be a folly because in some ways material and intellectual progress has proven to be close to inevitable. I couldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for a general increase in intellect and cultural aspects (e.g. tolerance, secularism, questioning of authority, etc) in our time and in decades prior ignoring the radical progress humans have made over the millennia. The truth is however that human beings remain largely the same in remaining both tainted by authority and poor material and psychological conditions and being incredibly easy and almost seemingly willing and eager to be tainted and made to varying extents the fool or apathetic. Human beings have changed drastically – but not enough. They have learned the most amazing and quintessential traits of our Universe – and yet fail to act on the most basic and personally relevant of facts. And they have managed to alter their everyday actions and scope of sight radically using imagination, intelligence and its fruits – and yet, though they’ve altered their reality immensely, reality fundamentally will always be as it was, and to the extent that people experience and connect themselves with the outside world (both the “natural world” and that of society) they will continue to be perverted and suffer.
The Cynics were right in viewing all socially constructed morality as erroneous, but were in error themselves to say that Virtue is Nature. Virtue is not Nature, instead, Virtue is Self. For the Self (as Anarchists understand it) is not merely the unit-of-measurement of a being capable of and entitled to free-action; but is instead a entity of thought that has the innate tendency to pursue justice as a good-in-itself (for one of the most basic characters of a conscious mind is a understanding of fairness) and as a self-promotional and expanding tool. All things which are destructive to the Self (including aspects of one’s own psychology) are fundamentally traits of weakness and lead to obliteration of the Self and immorality (as well as pain). And all that is strengthening of the Self (particularly reflection, creativity and random acts of charity based on the Golden Rule) is that which harnesses life which in turn (having an eternal reciprocal reaction of material reality and potential) aids the free and productive mind (which is the Self itself) which is the highest end of existence. Therefore Stoicism in retreat from the external world psychologically is fundamental for not only psychological stability and health (as the Buddhists focus on) but for the basic grounding of an intellectual constitution (that is to say a meaningful existence) and its growth.