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AMadManWithABlog

Welcome to my blog :3 My name is Yoann, and I do all kind of things.

I am interested in things that make me think, laugh or feel fuzzy with cuteness, as you can see from myanimelist or my shitposting tumblr. I am not interested in brainless action-driven pop culture, or anything about the real world.

On this blog, you’ll find mainly my writings and games, or pseudo-philosophical essays, both aimed at highlighting new perspectives for reflection (not at being fully developed argumentaries). I also have an idea box where I store all kind of food for thoughts that I will flesh out here later (or never if they’re not fertile or original enough, since I want to explore new ideas and not reinvent the wheel).

I leave you with a list of keywords a la 90s Google referencing exploit:

#uploaded consciousness, #memes in the Dawkinian sense, #noematics, #contemporary and experimental art, #ironic appreciation of cringe, #fujoshi culture, #postmodernism and deconstruction, #aesthetics, #transcendance, etc
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Cruel angel thesis

One of the topics I’ve been pretty interested in is the dialectics between individuality and collectivity. It’s a topic that is echoed in a wide variety of artistic works, some of which we’ll brush over here. It’s pretty common to see plans along the line of the Human Instrumentality Project which aim to destroy individuality and “become one”, i.e. merge humans in some sort of community soup.

I think it’s so well spread because it speaks to something at the fundamental level of human psyche. Consciousness and awareness of self only allow a definition of self by opposition to the rest of the world. There is only a “me” because there is a “non-me”. Therefore the “me” depends on the “non-me” for its definition. And even worst, the “me” can only exists as such because it is perceived by others (part of the “non-me”): that’s the whole thing of Sartre’s Gaze concept.

In addition to this dependency, it seems clear that the feeling of individuality is necessarily tied to a feeling of isolation (vis a vis the rest of the world) because I’m just a “me” in the middle of all the “non-me”. Furthermore, adding to this suffering is the notable fact that this “non-me” resists “me” and may not be super compliant with my goals. So the “me” is completely at the mercy of a tyrannical “non-me”. No wonder people single out individuality as one of the fundamental source of the suffering and wonder about getting rid of it. I personally feel that it is the most fundamental struggle of human existence.

One of my favorite such examples is the catholic concept of Eden, which represent paradise and absolute happiness. Adam and Eve are denied this completeness when they start being self aware and therefore individuals. This marks the start of suffering, and the start of the yearning for an unattainable Paradise Lost, which may be the root of any quest of mankind for an absolute. This essentially sets the tone for all of the christian conception of the world. Incidentally, this mirrors human life and an idealization of the past in general and childhood in particular, which is often reported as a blessed time without worry before self-awareness and its troubles are fully formed.

Considering these hardships, it’s probably no surprise that the question is usually resolved by an ode to individuality. The Human Instrumentality Projects in fiction usually fail, and we’re presented with a portrayal of how important and good individuality is because it brings diversity, “free-will”, independence, the american way of life (TM) and all that stuff. And most importantly maybe, in all that suffering, art. Oh and value to individual life, which is what collectivists are often blamed with lacking. A notable example very dear to my heart is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy which ends up as a celebration of this individuality/self-awareness as a pre-requisite and motor element of scientific reasoning and human progress.

It’s worth noting, however, that it is not a clear endorsement. The “death of the ego” is often presented as a step towards enlightenment and wisdom, proposing a counterpoint to the idolization of the self. It seems a bit less influential in popular culture, at least in the West, though.

Anyway, in this rambling of pseudophilosophical BS I call a blog, I try my best to reason free of the influence of what we take for granted, which includes the idealization of individuality that kinda plagues our society. Not gonna lie, I’ve historically been rather pro-Human Intrumentality Projects, persuaded that self-awareness kinda sucks and we pretend its worth it because we don’t have a choice in the matter and we’re stuck with it, making it a pretty clear case of cognitive dissonance. Plus “support individuality because otherwise your life doesn’t have value” seems like a bit easy (regardless of how true) as a marketing gimmick. But my goal today is not to support an antithesis or fan the fire of the discussion around whether or not self-awareness is a good thing but rather to offer a synthesis to this dialectic.

There’s a good chance that the world is what it is no matter how one feels about it, so whether individuality is good or bad may just be a moot point. Furthermore, if the world is indeed deterministic and govern by laws of cause and consequences, there’s no such thing as free will, and this self-awareness and constructed individual are essentially an illusionary byproduct of the brain’s inner working, a more advanced form of a cat meowing when it’s hungry.

Individuality is harder to define than it seems, because identity is a hard topic. Metaphores like the ship of Theseus highlight the problem of tying identity to a materialistic mass of changing cells, when it’s very obviously what an individual is. If they are not the cells, identity and consciousness must be their activity pattern:  they are emerging phenomena resulting from neural activity, which means that they can be replicated not only on a computer, but also in another brain. If what I am is the way my neurons behave, then I can literally be, at least partly, living in someone else’s brain. Which is brilliantly portrayed at the end of Evangelion when Shinji questions his identity with regards to the “Shinji inside other people“.

This conception of the self as a process decorrelated from its substrate echoes nicely the one of the self as a meme (in the Dawkins sense) and sheds new light on the dichotomy between individuality and collectivity. The border between different individualities is more blurred than it seems. Inside of me lives part of my friends, and every author I’ve consumed, possibly literally if I’m reproducing faithfully their neural patterns.

As such the individual is neither a standalone wonderful snowflake nor an insignificant pawn, but an intricate agent in a complex system. An individual is to society what a neuron is to the brain. It doesn’t make it insignificant nor irreplacable (see Brian Tomasik who is passionate about the ethical implications), it’s simply an essential part of the system – mankind. The real cruel curse of consciousness is that it’s an illusion. But there’s no real telling where “me” stops and “non-me” begins, as there is part of “me” everywhere in the system, that will go on in their computing tasks long after my flesh body has decayed, like many little horcruxes rooting me deeply forever in this eternal system. 

 

Jesusmas (TOP 10)

I wanted to do something special for christmas, and then I realized that gosh, there are many christ-like figures we have just lying around so to come back to the true meaning of christmas, here is my top 10 favorite Jesuses (I mean Jesi):

10. Anime Jesus

Relatable

9. Gandalf

Died for our sins, resurrected, changed color in the process and somehow ended up white.

8. Santa

I mean it’s his party too, he’s super altruistic, probably magical…

7. Reefer Madness!Jesus

because he’s introduced by Joan of Arc with the loveliest accent, and the song is pretty rad

6. Anyone in homestuck

they pretty much all died numbers of times and ascended to godhood for your sake, I mean think about it, and what’s your biggest sin if not being fandom trash… They made it all possible

5. Daniel Jackson

cause really you cant say Ascension without thinking Daniel Jackson, the textbook example of human raising above

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4. Madoka Kaname

sacrificed herself for mankind and became god

3. Baby Jesus (Jess Hall show)

Jesus is either a 33 yo dying martyr or an infant baby, most notably remembered as being stolen by Felicia Day in the Jess Hall Show

2. Kaworu Nagisa

it’s an godly representation than the human representation unites with in Eucharist (apparently thats hebrew for shounen ai). Gruesomly died for your sins

1. Zoe Graystone

sorry not sorry, she died to usher a new age and ascend the whole of mankind to a new status, she created life, she is perfect and you should watch caprica

——–

Honorable mentions:

Let’s not forget all our other favorite Jesuses:

Let me know if I forgot your favorite Jesus and I will add it to the list if he is cool enough!

The Meta Article

Since it must be clear by now that meta is one of my interests, it will come as no surprise that I’ve been planning for a while to do a meta-article about this blog.

Meta, if you’re still wondering, is the qualifier meaning “additional level of self-reflection”. Any work that’s self-aware, parodical, analytic… of its own genre is at least a little meta. Like a book about books, a song about music, or writing a play about people writing a play about writing a play… (In fact, the example of [title of the show] is one of my favorite because it borders on the notion of Quine, a computer science concept qualifying a program whose output is its own source code).

So what would a meta-article be like? Could be an article about the structure of my articles, but let’s face it, it’s probably not the most interesting thing to discuss and people have probably done it in literature class. So rather than focusing on presentation, I’d like to focus on content.

french joke

And here’s the thing: a reflection about reflection is also about itself, since it’s a reflection. It’s the mathematical property known as projection (a very fitting name considering the rest of this article). Similarly, this article about articles is also about itself. Wouldn’t then meta be a very elegant gateway into a fixed point in abstraction? And tend towards some kind of absolute transcendence? I think my god is the concept of concept (I mean think about it it’s the realest truest thing that exists ever!)…

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Most articles are at least to some extent absurd and nonsensical. They claim an unusual take on problems, which can obviously seem far fetched (most telling example would be looking for the meaning of life in Spice Girls’ Wanabee I suppose). But I think it goes beyond the humorous effect of juxtaposition of serious philosophy and supposedly mindless pop culture.

I think it dives into how, even unconsciously, a production of art is revealing something about its author. Furthermore, in a very quantum-physics way, any observer to any work will project meaning and interpretation onto it, thereby investing as well part of themselves. This projection is also a form of expression and reveals, however slightly, the inner-self to the self.

The work of art, often qualified of “window to the soul”, then appears as the base to a shared artificial construct of sense built both by the design and the interpretation. It’s far from absurd to look into that complex interconnection for answers about life and human nature.

In this optic, wouldn’t the nonsensical be the blankest, purest and more revealing thing to project upon? Could it be one of the core elements of the surrealists‘ automatic writing, or monochrome paintings? On top of challenging preconceived notions and semantics, they offer an unadulterated look into the self and its expression. Thus the least sensical could paradoxically prove the most informative to read into.

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Looking for sense within nonsense is not such a far fetched idea. Most of culture is sense arbitrarily built on top of nonsense. Sports is a set of semantics made up from the existence of a ball, religion is a set of texts and values derived from daily life…

In a way, most part of existence is inherently absurd, and facing this absurdity is the cause of existential turmoil. The nonsense of this blog and these reflections mirrors the nonsense of a world containing its own absurdity. Faced with the Absurd, we’re weaving a web of semantics to fill the emptiness. Much like Sisyphus, building sense on top of the nonsense is a only way to manage the absurdity of life.

The very answer to life, the universe and everything, 42, chosen by Douglas Adams for the sole sake of being absurd, has seen a multitude of semantics built on top of it. Even the very definition of art, etymological root of artificial, man-made, tends towards an absolute that transcends mankind.

And if nonsense is a pathway towards the essence of the self, so to is the much discussed here deconstruction of something a path to its essence. It is the very meta act for a work to look for meaning in the destruction of its self-aware tropes. Isn’t it meta, and especially meta through art, that reveals Hamlet that “All the world is a stage“, and that reveals Hamlet’s stepfather to himself?

Isn’t meta a wonderful key to ascend in the levels of abstraction, and I think we should rejoice that layers after layers of self-consideration from our postmodern postculture is building this babel tower towards the world of raw information. Isn’t this self-reflection the very act that gives meaning to the world? That makes you exist? (isn’t it God, since “what’s god if not the spark that started life” ^^ I’ve realized that my God is the Concept of Concept). I mean what is the meaning of life was understanding the meaning of life, wouldnt that be super elegant like a fixed point in meta or something…

And sure, meta may seem lazy and easy.  After all, you’re writing about what’s right there. It may even seem, like this article, as self-referential arrogant bullshit. But as Amelie Nothomb puts it so elegantly, the only human being you can peek into is yourself. It’s not a surprise that one of the most famous philosophical statements that pierced through time is Socrates’ invitation to self reflection γνῶθι σεαυτόν. It’s often translated by “Know thyself”, which means take a step of reflection towards your behavior. But it also means to take a step of reflection towards your reflection, and so on and so forth, so we all know it may as well be “Be meta“.

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Nerdy Christmas

Gotta love christmas! tis the season to be jolly, or suicidy depending on your situation.

I often wonder at how christmas has become simultaneously

– a religious/spiritual holiday

– a commercial/capitalist holiday

– a family holiday

– a romantic holiday

– a suicide holoday

All in one like… A holiday to rule them all

Anyway I try to celebrate every aspect of it in all its cultural diversity, as you can see in this wonderful gift I want to share with you dear people: Yoann’s weirdass christmas playlist. Enjoy also be prepared lol ^.^

And now time for my holiday tradition that I made 20% christmasier this year:

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also bonus: an arbitrary binary search christmas tree:

Sans titre

The price of life is right

So I had exams today, and what better time to dive again in existential anxiety and metaphysical crisis?

As the clock was ticking, I kept thinking about one of my traumas as a child. I hated the game Cliffhangers, from the price is right (le tyrolien, for the french peeps around). I distinctly remember running to my room or hiding under the table every time it was announced. Later on, support groups on the early versions of facebook (where people were doing groups for no reason at all) even told me that I wasn’t the only one.

Brief reminder. In this game, contestants had to guess prices, and a little yodle guy would climb a mountain. The more wrong the contestant, the higher the yodle guy went. Little by little, approaching the peak, happily yodeling. Should he go over it, impending doom was awaiting on the other side under the form of a bottomless pit.

As years passed, I realized that it was the perfect embodiment of tragedy, in the purest greek theater form. The very essence of tragedy. No unnecessary extras. Everybody knows where this is going. There is only one way. There is no stopping it.

Unbearable tension builds up as the little guy approaches the climax and its likely death. Could he even be oblivious to his deathly fate? Little pawn to the will of merciless gods pushing him further and further up towards his death. The whole public joins in a cry of terror and agony, confronted to the reality of their own futile existence. All around the world, audiences joining in on this collective existential crisis. And in that moment, we were all the little yodle guy, the symbol of human life that has only one possible end that we watched, powerless, unfurl in front of our trembling eyes.

There is something deeply disturbing about this little guy singing cheerily as he marches towards his death. Is he oblivious or kidding himself? Is this the only way to cope? Aren’t we all the same way, going about our little meaningless daily lives? (isn’t it somewhat ironic that the quintessential materialistic capitalist society would kill this little guy faster than curiosity killed the cat? All of this suffering for futile consumerist purposes? God this game is deep)

So that’s all well and good, but it’s fairly straightforward and obvious and doesn’t teach us much. What does is another yodling fellow named Sisyphus, condemned by the gods to push a huge boulder up a mountain only to see it roll down and start over and over and over again. This will all be much clearer when you’ve played the game version of it. Or seen this cat:

Sisyphus is the symbol of the meaningless repetitive task. So what does it have to do with anything? Well. they both climb mountains… I mean… isn’t that enough?

Sisyphus isn’t facing an imminent death but an eternity of meaningless suffering. That’s still pretty bad. In the footsteps of Albert Camus, we could see in this symbol a representation of the absurdity of human life. Since this is the internet, a quote is always better with a picture, isn’t it:

sisyphus-happy[1]

Faced with the unbearable absurdity of our yodle-like existence, we have no choice but to run away and think of something else. Perhaps diving entirely into this menial task is the only escape for Sisyphus. The only thing to keep his eyes from the abyss of his condition. His Pascalian diversion. Perhaps our daily life and our made up society is our boulder, meaningless, but that we keep pushing relentlessly because the alternative is simply too horrible to behold. Perhaps we need this boulder more than anything to be able to happily yodle our way to the immutable pit of doom. And always look on the bright side of death…