I’m Glad I Lived This Long

There was a time when I didn’t think I would live to get to middle school. Then it was high school. Then there was even a time when I didn’t think I would make it through high school…
It’s not that my body is in poor condition, or that I’ve lived a dangerous life. It’s more the opposite- I’m very talented and very devoted to denying myself anything which could bring danger into my life. Whether it was driving without a license, underage drinking, going to suspicious parties, or even having friends, I knew that I was perfectly capable of surviving without those temptations. It’s not that I am terribly minded towards the long term either- it’s just that I have a tendency to care very little about myself. At least the me in the present.
I’m used to hating myself and I’m used to denying myself. While some recount their high school life as a comedy or a tragedy, full of vivid highs and soul-crushing lows, mine was much more of an emotional flat-line. While on a good day I might manage to fool myself into believing that I’ve recovered from my stint with depression, it doesn’t take much more than me embarrassing myself to remind me that it’s impossible to have a clean break with one’s past. There are some times when I can laze around writing a blog post, and there are other times when I fault myself for needing to sleep. I am very much aware of my own failings, especially the fact that my time could be used in ways that could be more effective in the long run!
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It’s an issue of comfort.
If comfort or enjoyment is non-productive, axe it and do something else.
Of course, the way I define productive has changed over time. For instance, a friend I made playing Smash Ultimate is a fellow Computer Science major who I might be able to glean professional information from. The 20 minute naps I have taken habit to help reduce my headaches, therefore increasing my ability to retain information while studying or doing classwork. The anime I watch mentally stimulates me and reminds me that getting a job will allow me to be happier one day…
But I feel like since I entered college, I’ve been doing a little better with indulging myself as I am right now. I’ve taken up eating lunch with the other Comp Sci majors, and they are pretty entertaining. One guy uninstalled Windows on his computers because he’s afraid of corporations and only eats with chopsticks because plastic is bad! It’s been fun, even if I’ve been burying myself in classwork.
My basic model for happiness has also taken on a bit more dimensionality, because while I still sort of prioritize my future over my current desire to have fun and be lazy- I’ve realized that I’ll have less fun memories to look back on when I’m older. To be really be happy and to really have pride, I want to be able to look back on myself without too much pity. I want my future self to be able to say to me-

No matter my regrets and missed opportunities, my past actions led me to where I am now. I’m proud of the life that I’ve lived!

In the end, I think that’s not a terribly twisted wish to have.
… Well, I don’t have a cake with me right now, but consider that my birthday wish!
I’m 19 years old today. This means that I’m nearing the time where I can’t call myself “Edgy Anime Teen” anymore. A name’s a name, but I’m not entirely sure what I’d change it to- I mean, I really like thinking about it as “EAT”, because food is a fine reason to keep on living!
Instead of living for anyone else, instead of living for some ideology, living for a simple love of life is something that I can’t deny my admiration for. It’s something I aspire to, and while I may hopelessly oscillate from self-loathing to self-gratitude in my day to day life, I feel like I’m making headway. Winning the war, so to say, against the worst parts of myself for the sake of best parts of myself. Working to find the things of value buried behind my edgy adolescent intuitions, and working to discard the damaging remnants that hold me back from living the best life I can.
In a way, that’s the utility of fiction, once again.
So while my bit is over, I’d like to share some of my favorite lines from my favorite book, Nisioisin’s Zaregoto Book 2: The Kubishime Romanticist

“Now imagine an innocent young girl. Imagine the first time she ever looked into a mirror. Surely, in her perfect innocence, she didn’t know that the image before her was a mere reflection of the light. Instead, she imagined. She created something more: On the other side of the mirror, she saw an endless world….”
“But as soon as that dreamer of a girl reached out her graceful hand and placed a finger on that mirror, all she could feel was a void. Nothing but nothingness. The thing she had allowed to exist, someone else had not. Moreover, the thing she had allowed to exist didn’t mean anything to anyone else.”
“For that girl, in that moment, without any exaggeration, a world had been destroyed.”
– Prologue (pgs XIII, XIV)

Atemiya Muimi: “Akiharu! What did I tell you about pushing your bullshit opinions on others!? I’ll fucking kill you!”
(Also) Atemiya Muimui: “Mikoko and I have been friends since we were just little brats,” “If you hurt her, I’ll never forgive you.”
– (pgs 62, 70)

“I wanted you to save me.”
“I had just one response to that. A single phrase that I wanted to send.”
“Don’t be so spoiled.”
– (pg 343)

I really love the themes of self-projection and “altruism” that really come to a head in this book. Also its take on apathy is the perfect contrast to the Monogatari Series‘ theme of “people can only save themselves.”
In the end, it seems like a lot more people were interested in the murder mystery wrapping of Zaregoto than I was. Maybe the difference in our perspective comes from me being primed with the expectation of heavy themes and endearing dialogue typical of Nisioisin. Maybe it was that I couldn’t help but compare the way that Nisioisin crafted both the protagonist of Monogatari and Zaregoto to use the first person perspective to shape audience expectations and deliver the hard hitting thematic payoffs that make me love media. And maybe more than that, it might be because (unnamed) protagonist of Zaregoto embodies my greatest fears.
10486674.jpgThe sense of fatalism, the feeling that no one can understand other people, the apathy, the self-loathing that has taken the form of self-restraint… it’s what I see when I look into that mirror sometimes. That person that I could have become, given some awful turn of events. It’s existential horror for me, in the greatest sense of the word!
And to think that projection onto others is the core theme of the book…
You know I just had read it again for my birthday! Best book I ever read! And the corners aren’t even as frayed as my slightly newer copy of Kizumonogatari! That’s a plus!

So uh, yeah.
I like being alive, big whoop.
I had a birthday, double whoop.
But I dunno, my perspective is changing a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about the utility of language and the weakness of applying concepts to reality. At what point does the idea stop being useful, and become pointless sophistry? For instance, a thought experiment I had was “biological pronouns” versus a transgender person who was fully transitioned. I’ve seen people say that pronouns refer to chromosomes, and I’m just like- what’s the point in that? If they are socially and biologically ___, then why treat them as [    ]? What’s the use? Why even defend a term that has no utility in daily life and use that as a weapon to control individuals?
I mean, ideas and words have always been weapons and tools, so maybe it is a moral or social question. Do you believe that the value of individuals is greater than that of tradition? Do you believe that the objective meaning of some made up word (because all words are made up) is worth more than more precise or useful alternate definitions? The idea of good has been changed greatly over time, but people somehow think that more tangible traditional beliefs are somehow less fallible? People are weird in the way they hold themselves back, but I’m much the same.
But that’s enough of that for one day. It just passed 11 PM where I’m at, so chances are you wouldn’t even be reading this on my birthday! Oh well!

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12 thoughts on “I’m Glad I Lived This Long

  1. Happy late birthday. Didn’t feel like that long ago when you had your last birthday and I wrote some comment about tiramisu.

    Maybe you can be “Edgy Anime Teen +”… Or “Edgy Anime Twenty” next year! You can do numbers up until “Edgy Anime Thirty-Nine.”

    About language though, it’s true that it’s full of shortcomings, but it does continually evolve based on changing reality. Sure, it can never match up to social changes quickly enough, or ever capture “reality” with irrefutable accuracy, but it’s really quite fluid. Now that I’m doing more editorial work for fiction, I’m so often struck by how intuitive, even subjective, grammar really is. As for pronouns, “they” is already replacing the traditional “he/she” in many contexts, and that wasn’t even a thing a few decades ago.

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    1. Tiramisu…
      Man, to me that feels like a lifetime ago! I’ve just been so busy doing all sorts of things at college! I’ve compromised a bit on a few of my values, because I realized that there aren’t enough existentialists in the world.
      At college, there are so many fans of jerks like Ben Shapiro. People arguing from definitions instantly lose any credibility, in my book. I mean, c’mon, “Pronouns have always referred to chromosomal sex”? What the hell! Not only does that seem wrong as hell, what’s the point of talking about chromosomes in a social situation? Words are not inherently meaningful, and are only as useful as their ability to communicate ideas- so I can’t stand the intellectual dishonesty of using the definition of words to deny any other interpretations of reality.
      People are literally restricting and shaping reality to concepts attempting to capture reality, and it’s driving me insane! 😖

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      1. “There aren’t enough existentialists in the world” is an interesting comment. Do existentialists need the cooperation of other existentialists to survive or something? Perhaps there just aren’t enough people who philosophize about life to the same extent as you. I know I certainly don’t, and I respect you for that.

        No criticism attached to my question of curiosity, but why do you care so much about how other people think?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, I only realized recently that most people are totally inclined to believe that certain things or behaviors have some sort of value-
          And I mean, some people may say that there’s nothing wrong with allowing for people to feel like their religion is blessed, or that their actions have the approval of God, or that evolution has justified some sort of discrimination. “People should be able to think whatever they want,” is a real nice thought, but when a significant group of people think that they’re better than other people that can be a problem. For instance, people with moral intuitions tend to look down on people without them, often dehumanizing them. When you call someone a monster, you’re really just begging for them to live up to those expectations…
          And I wish people would, you know, not do that. I can accept that some people are selfish and shitty, but its shitty when they try to justify it through some external force- and then have people agree with it! I’ve seen people talk down to gay people because “straight love is special”, I’ve seen women who were called sluts because they were makeup, and I’ve seen people justifying ethnostates through our biological tendency for tribalism… people honestly scare me! Their ability to mobilize a group of people to put down another with faulty empathy and projected values is terrifying.
          Rejecting labels is what I originally was going for, but there aren’t enough people inclined towards existentialism for that to work. It was a fantasy to begin with, and it would only work if a majority of people tried to do that. Instead, I have to try to understand labels, stereotypes, and prejudices that make NO sense to me as I go through life, without somehow becoming cynical. Despite easily getting attached to people, I can’t let myself get worked up for their sake, or else I’ll just end getting even more frustrated at people in general. I don’t really like hating people, so it would be real nice if people just didn’t have prejudices!
          That is just my selfish wish though.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I guess I asked that question not because I question your reasoning, but because it surprises me that you think so much about “people in general,” and seem almost to consider things from society’s standpoint rather than as just another selfish individual. Of course, it would be nice if everyone can put down their prejudices, but that’s kind of impossible, so why bother so much if it’s beyond your sphere of reach?

            Hmm…is this where your recent compromise comes in, or am I just distorting it?

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Well, I have a massive ego, so it’s not unusual for me to have ridiculous dreams. But what made me give up was not the realization that most people can’t give up their stereotyped thinking, but that many people (way more than I initially assumed) derive meaning and socialize through fitting their individuality into some more confining identity. I was accepting of people using classification, like race or something, to reflect injustice in the short term- but I always imagined that we would get to a point in the future where we give up any sort of group identification. I thought it was an ideal and desirable long term goal.
            See, I’ve recently realized that compared to other people, my ‘identity’ is very flexible. I’ve figured it was just everyone else being subconsciously rigid because of their faith in stereotypes and certain beliefs, but maybe it isn’t like that. Maybe there is some biological difference that inclines me to attempt to identify and empathize with everyone. I act the way I do in real life because it’s the way I think other people would like me to most. I hate making other people uncomfortable, because I went through a lot of discomfort to get to where I am now. I don’t care much about my own actions, so much as I care about how they might make the people around me happier.
            For instance, I try not to do much that a guy isn’t expected to do. Sometimes that means laughing at a joke that annoys me, and sometimes that means not speaking my mind or expressing how I feel. Because my happiness is tied to the people around me, I care about what other people feel. It feels good to make another person smile, and it feels terrible to make someone else hurt- no matter who it is.
            So the compromise came in when I realized that pursuing the elimination of prejudices would probably end up hurting more people than it helped. For now, they have use. Later, people will still enjoy segregating one another until their arbitrary box starts to feel personally suffocating. I still don’t believe that any grouping is good, but I can at least try to support groupings that have utility.

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          3. Hmm, if psychopathy is a thing, I suppose the opposite can occur too. Prioritizing others’ happiness before my own is me to a good extent (moreso before than right now), but while there’s definitely a great degree of empathy there, I’ve always been critical of the selfish motives that must lie behind it somewhere. Year after year, you kind of just let things go though.

            Arbitrary boxes are bad, but you really can’t survive without them, so being aware of the arbitrariness is probably the best one can do.

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          4. I think we’re in agreement that they are the best we can currently do, but I’m unconvinced that illogical beliefs are the best we can do as a species or society. I think there are better ways that just require structural change on a level that’s impossible in the short term of our lives.
            Spending time on trans subreddits just makes me feel really concerned about the whole thing! There are lives that are at stake in this debate, and I wanna understand how to help someone if they need it. Just saying that gender lacks inherent value is not an argument that helps!

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          5. You have high expectations for humanity! I think there is value in our beliefs and that whether it is logical isn’t a criterion that must always apply, but maybe this is due to the limits of my frame of mind, not being as evolved as you expect humanity to be in the future. 🙂

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          6. There is definitely value in beliefs- but I am the type of person who will 10/10 times say that a single person’s life or happiness is more valuable than any belief that might get in the way of that. Still, I’m becoming increasingly empathetic towards people who feel like they have to sacrifice themselves for the values they feel give meaning to their lives.

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