Got The Double Life Problem? Feeling Like a Zombie? Try Some Borderless Philosophy.
An Edgy Essay by Robert Whyte and Hugh Reginald
This is not a manifesto, it’s an unmanifesto. Actually, it’s a cry from the heart.
You’re encountering The Double Life Problem if you’re experiencing a lived contradiction between your basic human needs for free thinking and creativity, and The Fake Life that’s turning you into a zombie.
Recently we’ve been thinking about how this fake world with fake news, fake jobs, fake fears, and fake gratifications is particularly punishing for bright people with daring intelligence and more than a slight streak of contrarian zeal. It’s all there in Orwell. The problem is now that we know this, what can we do about it?
The bizarre development in the homogenised anthropocene is the conflation of adulthood with rejecting creativity, as though the final and convincing social graduation is one where striving for sameness is the goal and striving for difference is to be shunned.
We need a social movement for change, but what would we call it? “Pariahs Unite”? It reminds Robbie Whyte of the “Non-conformists Club” he wrote about in 1972, which could never meet because they only thing they could agree to was to disagree about when to meet.
Sometimes it seems all we can do is encourage the madness, take discrete measures to survive, and wait until the fuckwits take things to excess in hysterical denial and bomb us back into the stone age. So, as Hughie Reggie puts it, we’ve been cycling in and out of survivalist cynicism and despair.
But when we’re on the out-cycles, we also feel that maybe we can actually do something, like Watanabe in Kurosawa’s Ikiru, and help build the philosophical equivalent of a worldwide children’s playground on the site of a swamp.
This new “Non-Conformists Club,”which doesn’t need to agree about anything to exist and function, is Philosophy Without Borders. It is simply a placeless location slithering around the interwebs, appearing and disappearing in the information ocean like a hunchback mother shark with 13 dimensions and a fresh pot of tea brewing.
The idea of borderless philosophy in general and of Philosophy Without Borders in particular, is the idea of a zone, like the mysterious Zone in Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which collects and reveals the thinking of philosophers and other philosophically-minded people, especially artists of all kinds, who haven’t succumbed yet to the intellectual and practical Night of the Living Dead. These people think for themselves and do creative stuff, with political implications and effects. Like “Plato’s Cave” a hang-out for philosophers rumoured to exist in Tasmania, or New Zealand, with the motto “Linking Thinking with Drinking”, Philosophy Without Borders goes one step further, “Linking Thinking with Thinking” where expressed ideas and investigations are drawn together by global currents of thought, like the Pacific Gyre, except without the tons of waste plastic.
Philosophy Without Borders has already managed to attract up a network of 100, maybe 200, people over the course of a year or two, simply by coming into existence. It could easily be a network of two million, or two billion, or minus 4 to the 25th, it’s immaterial. Literally. It doesn’t matter because it is not based in matter. Oh, except for the computers. The beauty of the Internet is, being a distributed system, the information on it can exist in many places and at many times, the responsibility of the hosting of information being the network itself. Maybe that’s why they want to bomb us back into the stone age?
So why is Philosophy Without Borders necessary, or even desirable?
The reason is, we have strayed from the path of not having a path. Everybody, everywhere, has simply gotten onto a huge bus travelling down one beltway road to fucking nowhere.
It used to be — in a more chaotic, village-based world of slow communication and lots of blind spots to hide or work, influence or be influenced, come up with ideas without coercion — that there was grudging acceptance of the value of experimentation and exploration, creativity, and useless fun. Why? Because you never know.
Unfortunately, not knowing and therefore being tolerant of difference, has gone out the window. Because now, we do know. We know exactly what is important, controlling, omnipresent and, let’s face it, in charge of everything, and that is … the market. The market rules. What else shapes society? What else governs human lives?
Yeah, yeah, you get a bit of pushback here and there with your Mariana Mazzucatos and your Thomas Pickettys and your Ha-Joon Changs but take note, those dudes are academics and one way or another have bought into the system which is an internecine pit of vipers and there are vipers all the way down. And anyway, all they do is complain. That’s no fun.
The reason why Philosophy Without Borders is necessary and desirable, is to say it’s OK to think for yourself and be creative (arguably the same thing).
What’s wrong with people these days? you say. If they want to be think for themselves and be creative, let them. Are they not free to do whatever they like?
Are they? Philosophical and socially, not really. The huge obstacle to free thinking and creativity, especially for young people, is The Fake Life.
As a market driven society evolves, you, and you over there, and you hiding behind that burning bush — will find it increasingly difficult to make a living and have a family, without doing it reliant on some State-like, big social institution or another. You think that isn’t going to influence the way you think? Dream on.
Given the reliance on these State-like, big social institutions and the last 40 or so years which have seen the concept of value being inexorably and completely hitched to the concept of price (aka worth in dollars and judged by the market) the notion of life-long, socially-integrated creativity (where creativity may by definition be new, unexpected and different) sails out the window to join toleration of difference and all other silly cast-off ideas like peace-not-war to land and split apart amongst the blood-spattered, noxious, white-picket-fenced garbage in the street below.
Which means that for people, especially for young people who innocently think there should be some creativity in their lives, participating in something like borderless philosophy, without feeling torn, uneasy, like a fish out of water, fucked-up, is nigh on impossible.
That’s The Double Life, and never mind the vipers.
So most promising young people eventually resolve The Double Life Problem by reluctantly becoming Statist, big capitalist zombies, and then relaxing like crazy on the weekends, numbing themselves, trying to quell the residual, vestigial urges towards genuine creativity and free thinking instead of the playpen creativity and obedience and fakery they’re locked into during the work week, as professionals of some sort or another, doing some bullshit job or another. And Darwin help the other young people who even fall short of that, working in shit jobs of all kinds, everywhere, billions of once-promising, now dead-inside, Statist, big capitalist zombies everywhere, faking it forever, The Fake Life without end, amen.
That’s why we need Philosophy Without Borders. You don’t have to believe in The Resistance if you can think and live borderlessly.
Where has this come from, this Philosophy Without Borders?
Well, there is more than merely something in the idea of an Australian, Canadian, NZ, network, “green shoots from an older, more civilized, less-market-driven nation,” which has created a scattered bunch of conflicted souls like ourselves who are “contradictions in flesh,” by being at one and the same time: anarchists/rule-respecting; misanthropists/people-lovers; anti-sentimentalists/humanitarians; and so on.
There is certainly a case for a few “lights on the hill” which embody strange value like “rich-meaningful-lives.” There is a lot of opting out going on, so why not provide, not a “cage to be clever in,” but some living examples of difference, sheer bloody-minded insistence on thoughtful existence?
We think that, in some sense, the idea of borderless philosophy is the return of the generalist understanding which has been killed by 1. pretension and 2. the big capitalist Statist victory of zombieism. The idea of people from all locations and from all walks of life actually understanding what’s going on and sharing the vigilance that true freedom requires.
Robert Whyte is an Australian scientist, author, editor, and journalist. His works include modernist fiction, political satire, arachnology, science journalism, and books. He is currently working on a slew of invertebrate taxonomy projects and a bunch of unfinished novels.
You can find out more about him and his work HERE.
Hugh Reginald is a Canadian independent philosopher, currently living on Vancouver Island. He is the director of Philosophy Without Borders, and the Editorial Team Leader of the new, amazing, and absolutely unique online philosophy journal, Borderless Philosophy.