Monday, February 14, 2005

Pointlessness and The Theory of Finite Babble

Today is Valentine’s Day.

I’m not a big fan of this “holiday”, in any way-shape-form. In fact, it is the most despicable holiday to ever be violated by Hallmark. Sure, there’s some sort of history behind this day, and I am sure it is a most fascinating story (Feast of Lupercus, St. Valentine the “match-maker”, whatever’s clever), but just like all other days-of-celebration, Valentine’s Day is little more than an obnoxious festival of consumerism, pushed by candy-peddlers and sentiment-writers alike, up and down the blood-red aisles of Target and Walmarts across this great land.

Because you should only celebrate your significant other one time per year. And you better spend lots of cash, asshole, otherwise you obviously don’t really care, and that would be awful, wouldn’t it? To show them you don’t really care like that? By not buy-buy-buying the high-priced/low-qualitied on-sale-now-gift-sets for him/her “this special holiday season”?

Well shit, I guess so.

I’ll leave that one be now. There’s no sense in beating up a dumb-ass holiday too much, as it’s existence will only be amplified by my attention (good or bad). And just for the record, I feel this way whether I have a mate or not. Me and my lady will be staying in tonight, making dinner, as that is what she preferred.

Moving on to a brief message on job insatisfaction.

I just deleted several paragraphs which were dedicated to how little I enjoy my job… After reading over a piece of it, I decided that it was quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever bothered to rant about. If you can honestly weigh all the elements of your job: salary, health benefits, work environment, a life-schedule, retirement funds, access to technology, venue to learn and grow, blah-blah-blah. If you can honestly map that all out, value it against the negatives, and come up short… then you need to figure out what you can do to have that valuation move to a positive. There is no set prescription for how this should be done. Different strokes for different folks. But for the love of all that decent and worthwhile on this planet, DO NOT whine about it.

Because really, no one gives two shits. And that’s only fair.

For the astute/regular reader, and the perceptive rhetorical analyst, my position on job satisfaction should be more than apparent. I am not paid to write, yet I post long-ass posts here on a (kinda) regular basis. Take that however you want, wherever you want, and smoke it. I care not.

On what it means to think up a theory, only to hear someone else use it as their own.

Back in the mid-nineties, frustrated with life, and angry at the uphill battles I felt forced to fight, I came up with a theory. It helped me get through certain times of trial, and it made a great deal of sense during times of utter nonsense. It is a simple theory, as it was meant to actually help me to understand my unforgiving environment (and not to forward any academic or intellectual thought). After the passage of time, I have found it easy to poke theoretical holes in the theoretical crutch-of-a-parachute, but I continue to stick by it as a theory of my own making, and I am therefore proud of it.

As any parent feels proud, regardless of how inept or developmentally challenged their children truly are.

I called it the Theory of Finite Happiness. And the theory postulated, quite simply, as the name implies, that there was only so much happiness available to the human race. At the time, I was referring to a couple of tenets made by the theory. 1) The more humans milling about, the less happiness available per individual. And more importantly, 2) any happiness felt by one person is offset by a decrease in happiness felt by others (a single “other”, or a collection of “others”).

That is to say, your happiness in winning the lotto would be equally offset by all the unhappiness felt by everyone else for having not won. Simple math to explain disgustingly unhappy times. Obviously, this theory is riddled with holes too large to be properly spackled. But it served its purpose, and it served well. After many years, the theory lost its importance and validity to me, and I shelved it. But I have maintained a low-level appreciation for it, as I considered it purely my own.

Flash forward ten years. Amongst a large group of friends, many of which were around ten years prior to hear me discuss this little theory, I hear someone mention it. And claim it as their own.

Now I cannot help but feel somewhat flattered that someone would refer to the theory, especially since it is both old, and easy to dispute. But at the same time, I felt almost hurt that someone might, even mistakenly (which could very well be the case) claim something like that as their own. I feel that it was something that was purely me, a product of my rage from a decade back, and that it does in many ways represent a very real piece of who I used to be. And this person, a very good friend of mine, hijacked it and claimed, in front of many other people, that this was a theory they had about life.

Out of respect for that person, I did not confront them about this. In fact, I still haven’t. I haven’t bothered to correct them for a number of reasons, including: they weren’t around when I thought the theory up. They entered our circle of friends several years later, so they must have heard it from someone else and simply forgotten where they got it, or they weren’t told that it was my theory (and perhaps thinking that it was a “free theory”, up for grabs, they simply took it) when it was passed to them. This would make it a pure accident, and I don’t want to be the dick who busts into someone else’s group conversation to call out the speaker. But mainly, the combination of me knowing that it was the mindwork (albeit simplistic, and feeble) of that time which is actually valuable to me, not necessarily the product, AND the fact that it really is a poorly founded theory, together, make it easy to just let it all go. I am fully capable of building better theories, and that one pretty much blew donkey nards, so no sweat. Water off a duck’s ass.

But only for that specific theory. Other theories I’ve boiled-up in my feverish brain, I might not be so quick to see attributed to anyone else, especially a close friend. It would be tantamount to someone else claiming one of my children as their own. I’d be beyond irritated or hurt by it. I would be livid. My words are MY words, damnit.

Since I’m on stupid-ass high-horse (my apologies for sounding like a pompous douchebag, if that is how this is coming across) about all this…

As a curiosity, I decided to look up my Theory of Finite Happiness on the interweb, to see if anyone else had published it themselves. I found a bunch of religious hoo-hah with a similar name/idea, some discussion of Pascal’s theory that everyone should go ahead and believe in heaven for statistical reasons (look that crap up yourself, it is mind-bogglingly silly) and THIS. Someone, back in 2003, wrote of the almost the exact same theory, with essentially the same name. Another reason to not care too much if it gets hijacked: someone else thought of it too. Craziness.

Because I do not believe that my theory spread far out into the world of philosophic discussion, I can only believe that similar theories and thoughts can be invented and/or considered in parallel, mutually exclusive of one another. More evidence that everything that can be thought of, has already been thought of.

The theory of finite knowledge. Another theory (not my own, this time) that is easy to poke holes in.

Damn you finite happiness!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dude bro, you got jacked!!! I remember you told me about your "THEORY" many moons ago. Tell you what, "not a china mans chance" we'll put a load of mindless happy folks into that rail bucket and roll them off a cliff. That might do the trick. Always a pleasure reading craigs bubble. I think i'll go punch billy and take his tonka toy.
brother nick

Truecraig said...

Hell yes! We shall covet their glee, and take their tonka trucks!

Many thanks to my favorite China Man.

Sean said...

Happiness is not a zero-sum game. Two people fucking makes them both happy, and that doesn't have to be at anybody else's expense.

For example, they're both hideous and unattractive to everybody else they're not even leaving anybody out or makying anybody jealous.

Happens every day.

Let other people claim that theory. Since it's wrong, you don't want the credit it for it.

Truecraig said...

Of course. You can drag that logic out even further, saying that "everyone else" would be happier at these two being secluded together, away from the rest of the population, not pestering any of the "pretty people" for sex. Everyone wins, I suppose.

Add yet another gaping hole to the sails of this ship-o-theory. Zing!

dungsta said...

i beg to differ with sean's hole poking attempt on the grounds that he is making too many assumtions in his paradigm;
1)just because two people are fucking doesn't mean their happy- ive had many ex's that ive slept with and thought dam i feel worse afterwards and guilty during
2)lets say they are fucking because they want to, this doesn't inturn mean they are both enjoying it
3)what if they are porns stars and they feel like they're at work on a saturday night....not gonna bring me happiness thinking im at work on a saturday night.

the thing to me about happiness is i think thats the thing orwell was talking about candyland for in 1984. of course their is an illusion to heaven in that moses, the bird that tells the farm animals about candyland to pacify them, is hard to work around but you can just as easily subtract the religious allusions and replace it with happiness.

whatevas, c & s, I hope your happy.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Valentine’s. Yes, hideously commercial, overpriced goods. There are probably lots of people out there, though, that only get consideration from their mate one day a year and appreciate it. We can feel lucky if we aren’t them. There should be a holiday, though, for the healthily-single out there. Or is that what Mardi Gras is for?

I subscribe to the theory, no offense, that there is nothing new under the sun as far as philosophical rants go. That doesn’t mean you didn’t think of something completely independent of some isolated monk or tripping hippy, just that at some point you’ve reached a common wavelength. But, you can get back on that high horse if someone you have contact with had their brain tickled by your comments and you’ve caused them to ponder.

And, if there is finite available happiness, would there be conversely finite unhappiness available, making everyone on the planet feel at less intensity than when there were less people to share the same amount of vibes? Or, are there just too many grumpy fuckers?

-lbm

Truecraig said...

The Theory of Finite Happiness is easily discredited. No argument there.

And yes Dungsta, perhaps there is something to the theory that happiness is little more than trickery (by the gubment, "the man", or your own mind). I like to believe there is something pure there, but I am open to the possibility that life is simply levels of pain. Happiness being the lack thereof.

However unsettling that may be to some, it is a possibility.

Mama Lara! Glad you could comment! I understand what you're saying about the finite UNhappiness as a corollary to the theory. But as it was, I considered the amount of happiness to unhappiness to be a moving ratio, depending on the number of people in the population. With happiness being set, the higher the population = the less available happiness per individual. That gives values the limit of UNhapiness at infinity as the population itself approaches infinity. Happiness remains static and set.

That was my theory. And yes, it is still FULL of holes, as it is a bad theory. And by "bad" I mean really shitty, in more ways than one.

dungsta said...

well i hope you weren't misunderstanding me cause i didn't want to reduce hapiness to some illusory effect of the mind or some exterior oppressive stimuli (da gubment, the man, or your own mind). Like you, i too hope for some purity or inherently existing hapiness in the galaxy. What i was attempting to interject in the conversation was the possibility that though "happiness" may exist in this wacked out milkyway, human social constructs, and the adaptive(or maladaptive depending on your outlook) uses thereof may in fact inhibit our ability to concretely navigate through the penumbra of human existance in such a way that said happiness is optimized/utilized in healthy constructive way. My use of "moses" from 1984 was an attempt to illustrate how human religious constructs often take our eye off the prize if you will and we tolerate far too much unhapiness in the here and now when we should be struggeling to bring more hapiness to each other. there you go calling me on my lazy thinking, thanks.

Truecraig said...

I don't think your comment was the product of lazy thought, Dungsta. I agree that happiness, while it may be an actual and real "feeling", appears to also be a "concept" which gets used by certain entitities as a means to an end. Whatever "end" that may be (or have been).

Bread and circuses. The "love" of a fabled deity. Tax returns (worst.savings plan.ever). American Idol Championships. All of it: a farce of a replacement for the real deal. If indeed, a "real deal" exists.

That's what I got out of it, anyhow. Did I sew a vest on a button or what? Sheeeeeeiiiitt....