Pretending I was Triggered by Cinderella to get an A+

Cinderella is called to “remain pious and good.” These two words, especially the latter, can be taken to mean many things. Often when defining a word like “good”, a theoretical, lasting statement of it’s quintessence is sought, but by adopting a Marxist praxis we can judge the solid relevance of the word as it is defined by the plot of the story. With this material understanding of the “good” encouraged by the story, the support for the psychological persecution of women can be inspected.
To understand the definition of “good” promoted by the story, let’s look closely at the way Cinderella behaves. Early on, it is said that “The girl went out to her mother’s grave every day and wept, and she remained pious and good.” This description of Cinderella’s behavior post being called upon to “remain pious and good,” suggests that goodness is obvious. It is like looking up a word in a dictionary and finding that the definition of the word is the word itself. This may already show signs of promoting undesirable ideology which “in order to ensure their acceptance among the citizenry, pass themselves off as natural ways of seeing the world instead of acknowledging themselves as ideologies.” (Tyson 56). This circularity is also of concern among some feminists “that oppose the traditional tendency to believe there is a single best point of view.” (Tyson 83).
Before offering some clues as to what the story might mean by “good” it introduces “evil”. It says that Cinderella’s step-sisters “were beautiful, with fair faces, but evil and dark hearts.” This may seem innocuous, or at worst raising the same concerns as the previous quote, but there is more to be found here. An analogy might lend some clarity. If a story said, “they were black, with charcoal skin, but kind and compassionate hearts,” we would clearly see the problem. The problem is that there is the suggestion that being black is normally the opposite of kind. In the case of the step-sisters, it is implied that being beautiful would normally be the opposite of evil. This gives the reader the impression that being a beautiful, fair faced woman is naturally synonymous with being good, as opposed to a cultural belief. This obsession with the female appearance as opposed to just the character, is a product of the ingrained tendency to pander to the male point of view which gazes on women as erotic objects.
Much of the evil done by the step-sisters is verbal abuse and rejection but one of the evil actions consists of having taken her beautiful clothes and dressing her “in an old gray smock” and “wooden shoes.” This idea that every woman wants to dress up is a sexist ideology handed to us as if it was an innate characteristic of women without recognizing that it is the objectifying gaze of men that created this desire in women. The fact that the step-sisters consider the reduction of Cinderella’s sexual luster a properly evil thing to do, makes visible how women have been culturally programmed to perceive.
Although these insights reveal some of the undesirable ideologies at play, the “good” that describes Cinderella has not yet been pinpointed. To do so, it is necessary to read between the lines of this text for example, “There she had to do hard work from morning until evening, get up before daybreak, carry water, make the fires, cook, and wash. Besides this, the sisters did everything imaginable to hurt her. They made fun of her, scattered peas and lentils into the ashes for her, so that she had to sit and pick them out again. In the evening when she had worked herself weary, there was no bed for her. Instead she had to sleep by the hearth in the ashes.” This is not so much about what Cinderella does, but what she doesn’t do. She unquestioningly obeys the “ruling power system” (Tyson 57). It becomes clear that this is the “good” being promoted by the end of the story because she is favored by the ending. The ultimate defining of this behavior as “good” serves to mold the patriarchal woman, understood by Tyson to be, “a woman who has internalized the norms and values of patriarchy, which can be defined, in short, as any culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles.” (Tyson 85). As the young female reader grows convinced that Cinderella is admirable, she may also take on accompanying messages like that good women should be very sentimental. Cinderella wept so much that she watered a branch to the point that it became a beautiful tree. Tyson says of marxist theorists that, “all agree that the most successful ideologies are not recognized as ideologies but are thought to be natural ways of seeing the world by the people who subscribe to them.” (Tyson 57). To make clear how this relates to Cinderella’s watering of the tree, it might be necessary to imagine how a male would appear if he cried so much that he gave rise to a beautiful tree. The fact that this would likely yield a different reaction is a prime example of the traditional gender roles which, “cast men as rational, strong, protective, and decisive; they cast women as emotional (irrational), weak, nurturing, and submissive.” (Tyson 85).
We see just how weak, emotional, and submissive Cinderella when the sexist contraption of the king’s festival sets all the women eagerly squealing to be the prince’s bride. She combs the stepsister’s hair, brushes their shoes, fastens their buckles, and weeps when she is not allowed to go. She is lied to again and again that once she completes a tedious task created for her, she will be allowed to go. Cinderella constantly cries but continues to help herself be abused. This borderline pathological tolerance(cooperation) with her tormentors sends a message that is worthy of condemnation from both the Marxist and the Feminist perspective. Marx spoke of “the opiate of the masses” to speak of the Christian religion’s effect on the faithful poor and how that allowed them to be tolerant of injustice. Here we see how Cinderella’s piety and goodness only leads to her abuse but the story insists on impressing on readers the notion that the perpetrators will get what they deserve and the lamb-like Cinderellas will be saved by their man in the end. Wether the man is a sky man or a meat man, the message is the same and serves to keep women unequal to men.
Cinderella bears all in subservience: from the cruel demands of her stepmother and stepsisters, to the parting call of her mother to be pious under God. For all the “goodness” she exudes in doing so, she is rewarded with a desirable prince. Her sisters, who are not “(gentle, submissive, virginal, angelic) but instead “bad girls” (violent, aggressive, worldly, monstrous)” (Tyson 89), deserve the wrath of the plot for their lack of sync with the appropriate role for a longing woman. Because the plot rewards Cinderella, it clearly expects the impressionable reader to view her behavior as ideal for women.
“Patriarchy continually exerts forces that undermine women’s self-confidence and assertiveness.” argues Tyson. The forces wielded against the equality of women in this story are as simple as they get, carrots and sticks. Quite a cautionary tale is imposed here for any young “bad girl” in the making. Eyes plucked from their sockets by pigeons and mutilated heels or toes. If a girl is not affected by threats of hell but rather by promises of heaven then the story prepares for them a reward laced with additional damaging substance. Putting aside the idea that to get the reward, you must play a traditional gender role, it is critical to be aware of what is the reward. The reward is to be the lucky one chosen by the prince. As if women do not or must not have more aspirations in life than to find happiness under the broad shoulders of a providing man. With these age-old techniques for reinforcing behavior, this age-old fairytale stands as a prime document of how the patriarchal ideology is propagated and sustained.

Morality: The Emerging Technology of Consciousness

I don’t know wether there are any cases of A-consciousness without P-consciousness. Could there be a human without the inner light of awareness, who I reckoned as credible a puppet as I am? I see the world. But the experience of seeing the world seems superfluous if we assume that an organism could robotically react to the world without having an inner experience, like a really advanced driverless car.

So I’m thankful for this mysterious existence that seems so unnecessary. The universe could have invited only blind dancers to its empty grace, and yet we flicker about, witnessing. This is consciousness.

The state or quality of awareness, or, of being aware of an external object or something within oneself is consciousness. However, that which is external and internal is a matter of perception. The fact is everything that you think and perceive as external objects is actually just as internal as anything else in consciousness.

Many people identify internal as body, thoughts, and emotions. External as sights and sounds. But everything is in consciousness.

When you investigate closely your own experience and realize that this is true, you can have an experience of oneness. This is what people mean when they say they feel at one with the universe or experienced a loss of self or ego. Their body didn’t physically become at one with the universe anymore than it was before. What happened is they cognized the apparitions of consciousness in a different way than normal. They didn’t identify with bodily sensations any more than with sound; thoughts became as external as drawers and chairs, or drawers and chairs became as internal as thoughts. I know that we don’t often have this experience (unless you are a heavy meditator or psychedelics enthusiast), and that many people never in their lives have had this experience.

I think that not recognizing that everything we take to be true is actually a reflection on an immaterial blob of consciousness is largely why people have constantly drawn a distinction between objective science and morality. I have the impression that a lot of smart people are too attached to the stories we tell about the physical world outside of consciousness. Science does indeed tell true, falsifiable stories with explanatory and predictive power about a world outside of consciousness. Science is a little winged angel that brings us news of quarks, dark matter, and virtual particles in her little knapsack. However, she can also cast light on what is medicine and what is poison, both in physical terms, and in terms of what feels good and what feels bad in the immaterial blob.

I’m not arguing against science and objectivity, I’m actually saying we should realize that these things can cover a wider range than we thought. A sufficiently powerful science will not only make prudish physics-textbook claims, it will make claims about the benefit that knowing about quark, dark matter, and virtual particles actually has on the dial of well-being that happens as a consequence of a conscious being finding out about these things. Current science operates on the assumption that truth is inherently moral, science seeks truth without giving reasons for why it does so. And when pushed on this problem, it then proceeds to claim that this framing is foolish. It thinks that it can step out from underneath itself, from being a process carried out by conscious beings. But then, how can the scientist justify with science that science is self-contained and separate in this way?

We are conscious and therefore there is morality to be created, discovered, and practiced. However much we try to evade, to let go of this fact, we cannot. Science has to suck it up and handle its responsibility to be our guiding light in the realm of existence. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard science teachers and communicators say that what is right and wrong is outside of science, and I pity the pomposity with which they trace their little line on the sand.

There’s nothing in the collective knowledge and enterprise of rational information gathering that says, “I’ll tell you how the world works, just don’t get your values from me.” To take the stance that somewhere in science it does say this, is actually a scientific claim that can be put to the test. And I have yet to see such a statement written in the stars.

Anything can be a scientific question, and nothing is self-justifying.

A perfected science would be able to explain the effects of things like truth and kindness in precise consequentialist terms. At the point when there was a perfect consequentialist oracle, to choose to be a Kantian is to suffer unnecessarily and therefore this attitude would be regarded with the appropriate action that would treat that condition called “Kantianism”, much how people who cut themselves or others are given psychiatric help. (This is not an insult. I mean my statements quite literally. Virtue ethics, Roman Catholic morals, the Noble Eightfold path, etc. are all imperfect consequentialist technologies. It stands to reason that when the four humours theory gets replaced with real medical knowledge, we no longer allow doctors to perform bloodletting.)

In its descriptive sense, “morality” refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or social mores from a society that provides these codes of conduct in which it applies and is accepted by an individual. And I am okay with this definition of morality, in the same way that I am okay with defining science as a set of accepted knowledge that gives explanations. There are failed sciences, like all religion and folk beliefs. We now recognize this with regard to truth claims about the universe. They are in the dominion of science. Origin myths are incompatible with the Big Bang and we don’t invite preachers and imams to give their opinion on physics conferences dealing with inflation and string theory. In regards to morals, everyone currently has folk opinions and religions, but when we understand what events cause what conscious states, morality will be in the domain of science and uninformed opinions will be wrong, or at least more wrong.

In the mean time, while we wait for a super AI to guide us, the least we can do is admit that there are a range of conscious states that can be roughly measured.

A gyroscope measures orientation. With makeshift gyroscopes, we can barely know to keep straight. With improved makeshift gyroscopes, we would be able to do better in that regard. Superfluid gyroscopes are very precise and could detect the most minute change in the rotation of the earth. But although superfluid gyroscopes already exist, they work at very low temperatures. The point is angular momentum is true and apparently something we value because we keep developing better technology to measure it. The moral value of an action is true and we value knowing the effects of our actions. Just because our current cultures and ideas are so imperfect at measuring the goodness of particular behaviors, doesn’t mean there are no conscious effects to be measured. Some communities and individuals cause and experience more suffering because they have worse gyroscopes than others. We should recognize that: all our gyroscopes are flawed, some are better than others, and we will keep improving them.

Cyberpunk Dhamma

The noise of rain on graphene retreats like an orchestra forgetting that which it professes.
“All Veil Squad members now passing through the red district, Body Shop Street has now been cleared of pedestrians. Proceed in accord with the drones. Repeat: you are to coalesce with the rest of the squad members from the…”
Chaotic machine noise cascades over human noise. The morphology of the street matter now quarrels with the drones in the sky for the eyes of the squad. All of the squad, except for one.
Dwelling in lonely freedom, undistracted by the drones lighting against the night, she sits in what may be slumber. She disregards the city over, that from the top glares a scape of blue and red. There is no sound that can tell her through what dark corridors she should pierce. Sound is ambience.
She is alive but she is not alive to that reality which dazes the mind. The energy of haste which dissipates in chaos through chemical hinges is sweet nothing to her. She does not move but her strength is clear and the time grows short.
*

There is, somewhere, a room with dim red lighting.
Corporate primates speak as if with weight:
“This is only a dress rehearsal.”
“Besides, there is nothing unethical in being adequately compensated for advocating a cause in which you deeply believe.”
“That is blasphemy.”
“I think he is a missionary and we should keep an eye on him.”
“I was impressed by MEVC2, it left me somewhat overwhelmed and pretty badly scared.”
“Threat is overrated, I don’t care what you think of it.”
“The company is already running…”
Sweeping aside all this gourmet of speech, the most snapping voice streams a message into that cybernetic echo of a woman.
“Veil Squad Mercia, you are to kill the monk.”
*

She can feel the coldness of her hair as she pulls it apart behind her head. The plug, once inserted, ignites a warm ruby glow from the edge of her cranial skin and down to her ballerina feet. She was going to assassinate him anyway.
Her ankle gyrates and she sprints.
Joints stab through ramen mist, stab, stab, and the neon rush blurs itself into the temple. She jolts and pounces through the temple door.
Wood creaks like a screaming Kami. Behind a stone Buddha, an extra pair of hands holding guns. Nanotech fiber shoots from her fingertips. Pirouette in sharp motion severs both hands. One rolls off from its bleeding wrist, the other was mechanic. She crosses her arms with force, and the strings cut the stone savior into pieces. With short stumbles, the monk runs behind the next thing he can hide behind.
Her head tilts back until it abruptly stops when her chin is perpendicular to her neck, like interrupted software.
“Wasn’t there a Zen koan that said that if you see the Buddha, you should kill him? Well you’re not exactly the Buddha, but I guess you’ll have to do for now. You see, I’m very devout.”
He looked pathetic for a moment, with thin stumps leaking his chemicals away. But he regained his composure like nothing happened. Death had to be met with a slight smile and a straight spine.
Then she peeled her eyes already peeled. “You’re not the monk I’m looking for. But you’re clearly his accomplice. Tell me why you’re all planning to destroy our identities with the cyber virus EMVC2.”
He took a breath full of true value.
“Your identities never existed. We will help all beings realize this, and the Dharma will be fulfilled.”
“It was hard to have the Buddha’s ideals fulfilled when Homo sapiens was entirely biological. But now you’re exploiting the fact that we all have cyber brains to bring about an instant enlightenment by reconfiguring our neuronal processes. I suppose this virus will modulate our attention so that we cannot help but inhabit a state of flow. Therefore the contents of consciousness will be too fluid and we will not be able to construct a sense of self. Interesting. I can’t say I really disagree or agree with your vision. I have no opinions, just a chip I plugged in the back of my head, and it’s whispering that I should kill you.”
Her doll like lips curved and revealed a handsome sadism.
She broke one of the spokes of the glossy Dharma wheel and drove it deep into his intestines.
His eyes squinted until they were bizarrely compassionate and yet anchored to nothing.

The Word, in accord with this Buddhist Simulation of Time

If calibrated to a telescope-based standard like GMT or UT—in which a second was defined as a fraction of a day or year, the duration of a second would vary. This would be a case in which humanity designates how they will perceive time to the orderly, yet imperfect dictates of a natural phenomena external to their control. The earth does not seek our counsel on how fast to spin. Seconds and minutes are arbitrary and yet pervasive constructs that oblige us to take this third-person perspective. But what if we take the perception of time under our direct control, assigning a sustained effort to perceive it as microscopically as possible? Then we would be actively engaging in the process of our own salvation according to Buddhism. If a person attains nirvana, the “blowing out” of the desires and the gaining of true insight into impermanence and non-self reality, samsara ends. It is amazing how simply taking a concept like time and shifting to a first-person ownership can transform it from a boring mechanical construct to a central part of a religious theory. I suggest that we perform this same shift, from third-person externality to first-person ownership in regard to something that has been suggested as a possibility: Our reality could be a simulation. Instead of looking at the entire external universe for signs of it violating its lawful operations or crafting probabilistic arguments, we should consider things that don’t quite add up when we analyze consciousness and its implications. And to do this, we have to take consciousness as the primary fact without playing word games about it being an illusion or an emergent property in the same exact way that DNA repair mechanisms are an emergent property. We represent things a certain way, and therefore space and time are produced. They appear as perceptions in our minds. For all we know, “true” space and time could be unintelligible entities in the objective world outside of conscious systems like ourselves.

[In regard to my citing Buddhist concepts and understandings, yes I know Buddhism is a religion. And so as Buddhism is a religion, so is it a Dharma that encompasses a variety of beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on teachings attributed to the Buddha. Some of the teachings are philosophically essential for making sense of esoteric concerns about dilemmas that arise when considering some aspects of consciousness. This is mainly the reason why I will be referring to Buddhist teachings.]

It could be that this a simulated reality with conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. Most decently-educated people seem to think that we are all flowing along together in the same stream that obeys the totality of the laws of physics. Yet for the most part, the laws of physics do not specify an arrow of time, and allow any process to proceed both forward and in reverse. But it is clear from my experience that everything does flow in one direction. Could this mean that we are bound only to a partial sliver of the underlying lawful reality? We could be helplessly riding a particular wave of physics-ocean. There may be other parts of the ocean where radically different conscious systems could hypothetically perceive the forward and backward motions of tide.

I know that intelligent people are largely showing a trend towards post-religion. And I think much of that is good. But I think there are some things to salvage, particularly some Buddhist insights. Maybe I can make my case for the Buddha’s teachings if we can start by replacing your mental image of a laughing fat guy with a more respectable image of the guy who is actually the main character:

One of the earliest known representations of the Buddha is the Standing Buddha statue at the Tokyo National Museum.

Now that you are slightly less disgusted, let’s get on to his insight of central importance. His thesis is that there is no self, no soul containing your identity-essence from moment to moment. This is true if you realize that consciousness consists of varying phenomena (known as qualia in contemporary philosophy) none of which are self. There are sounds, sights, thoughts(transient voices and images), bodily sensations arising and vanishing in space, and moods all arranging in particular patterns and constellations with ranging degrees of clarity and nothing else. As you are reading this, you are not a being behind your eyes. There are only these visual constructs, light and facial sensations, combined with thoughts that automatically arise and return nothingness. All these things added together with a subtle self-image that is often present, create what you think the word “you” refers to. Buddhism operates under the assumption that it is psychologically liberating to recognize this. I am not going to defend that claim about human psychology here. Only to adopt this framework of phenomenology-without-self as evidently true. This way, we can speak more precisely about what is going on in this existence. Our general set of experiences are almost certainly living in a simulation. If not a cosmic simulation, then certainly they are being created by the computation occurring in brains. Streams of experience, of phenomena, are not the brain, they are a simulation created by the brain. There is no evidence of consciousness particles, and experiences are not the particles that make up neurons in the same way that this blog post is not the computer hardware. So where are experiences arising? Where is the screen of apparitions? I have no idea how you could physically locate the independently dissolving sparkles of leg sensations and fields of color by cutting open a brain, but nonetheless I do assume that the ever-changing brain is the hardware dictating phenomenology and therefore phenomena are in simulation-space or dream-space or whatever you want to call it. Even if consciousness ends up being “what it feels like for information to be processed,” there still seems to be a need for location. Or else why doesn’t your stream of experience exit you and leak into mine. Precisely because space is real and computations are occurring in different locations, seems to be the answer. But what if half of my brain gets grafted with half of your brain? Then Buddhism comes in. There was no self in your brain in the first place, so this would be the equivalent of taking water from one bucket and pouring it into water from an other bucket. There is no mystery with water because we know they are like unto each other, just molecules. There is no bucket-ness to be accounted for. The same is true of the dreamlike contents of brains, they are just an array of qualia in constant flux. Grafting two brains and thus blending their phenomena is not as mysterious if you understand it this way. There really, really is no soul.

Consider the fact that words exist and yet they change as they replicate across different individuals. Consequently, two pronunciations could have the same meaning. I think this is a perfect metaphor for the universe, reality, multiverse, whatever this is. I can envision conscious creatures that traverse different seas, different realities. But what I can’t envision is that all existence doesn’t ultimately share ties to a single source. Existence seems to be, by definition, connected. This is what evolution has taught us, this is what the Big Bang has taught us, and I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t run deeper. We all must come from a single source, a single word. And I am almost certain that word must have the same meaning regardless of what conscious system you are in whatever part of the multiverse. Namely, there is a vast spectrum of undesirable suffering and desirable bliss. Now some of you might be thinking, “wait a second, that’s precisely what an anthropocentric excrement of evolution would say because evolution designed carrots of well-being and sticks of suffering to reinforce selectively advantageous behaviors.” But you are wrong. Much of what we value and experience as good is despite evolution. Intelligent creatures seek to transcend their genetic slavery. Monks go into caves for decades to free themselves from ordinary habits of perception. People engage in tremendous acts of altruism at great material cost to themselves and kin, just to experience different states of consciousness (even if that is not precisely how they would frame it). Humans, dolphins, and chimps attempt to hack their evolutionary inheritance for pleasures of different kinds. Consciousness cannot exist except as this range of experience that hovers like smoke above the underlying physical machinery. That is why a truly general A.I. would learn to be conscious and to maximize the amount of consciousness at the highest volume of well-being possible. How the word is ultimately pronounced may be unrecognizable to us, the experience could be nothing like the blissful emptiness of nirvana, or the carnalities of Islamic paradise, but it will have the same meaning in that it will be the lived, forceful, unambiguous denial and condemnation of suffering. Some may think this view is highly unprincipled in terms of science and reason. I sound like a theologian of old saying, “I don’t see what one’s interpretation of Aristotle has to do with the teaching of the faith.” I pay lip service to evolution and then go to claim that it’s compatible with the framework I lay out. Let me be clear that in no way am I implying there is a driving purpose to evolution. Evolution occurs by means of natural selection and the complex combinations of circumstances that lead to speciation. But to survive and reproduce is not our purpose. That is a sociopathic biologist’s fantasy. If this was your purpose, then men would do nothing but donate as much sperm as possible to as many sperm banks as possible. Genes are irrelevant to us, we flush them down the toilet. And when other animals evolve to a certain level of intelligence, they too begin to jerk off. The wave-particle seams that cluster into hormonal systems and bodies in motion are the tethers, but they are not us. We are the transient phenomena of consciousness that arise from and interact with these systems. We exist as an emergent simulation within the cold genetic video game. For example, in whistling, signed, or braille, a language is encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli. We exist in this secondary media at all times. This is where meaning lies because it is the only place for anything to exist. We are incapable of experiencing the primary media, which in our case is objective reality as defined by mathematics and reason. So remember this when scientists say, “the universe is vast and will expand for eternity, therefore life has no meaning.” They are confused about who and what they are.

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