Bleak the Future

The one true question is that of suicide. All human activity is an attempt to either ignore suicide or suppress it. Suicide is the one question which all human beings are faced with, whether they like it or not. Meaning is an activity which suppresses suicide. Meaning keeps suicide out of the living quarters of our lives. Whatever gives our lives meaning is the very thing that gives our lives the impulse necessary to keep going. But we live in an age of meaninglessness. Chaotic obsoleteness. Human beings are increasingly faced with the reality that their lives are not only useless, they are utterly meaningless. It is true that the technological revolution brought humankind relief. It has. And humankind has found other forms of activities which distract from the question of suicide. The farmers dropped their pitch forks and picked up suitcases. Their lives lost an essential part of the stimulus which kept them going. The farmer lost his or her identity. And identity crisis ensued. We offered the farmer something that replaced his or her occupation. We gave them desk jobs. But with the epic progress in technological development, we are now entering a different age. No, this age will not offer human beings a “different” career. This age will offer human beings nothingness. It will render most of their activities useless. Not only will they be obsolete, they will become a burden.

Our scientific and technological progress will not save us here. For we are entering a different age indeed. This new age will not replace a certain role a human being has played; it will supplant the entire human being. The future is almost here. And the future is rendering human beings obsolete. Amazon.com has run thousands of bookstores out of business. RedBox has run movie stores out of business. Kiosks are taking over. But that’s just the beginning. We have not yet replaced the human being. Artificial intelligence is the future, whether you like it or not. Once the human is replaced, there can be analogical comparisons made between the future and prior epochs. No age has yet replaced the human being. The future will.

Meaning. That odd word few have time to think about.

Meaning is a complex term. Employment gives people meaning. Working gives people meaning. But knowing that you are replaceable, a burden, useless—that annihilates all sense of meaning. The future is coming and you are as obsolete as ever. Increasingly burdensome to the cycle of life.

Suicide. Such a strange word. But get used to it; it’s entering our vocabulary. The proverbial Indian farmers committing suicide by the thousands may not be a part of public discourse in modern America, but they soon will be. We, too, shall experience an identity crisis. It is, frankly, inevitable.

Religion will attempt to distract from our insignificance. Religion will exalt humankind over all other forms of life. Religion will pacify the masses. It will keep them entertained long enough to sip the poisonous Kool-Aid. But even religion will not be able to defend the weakest of the species. For once made obsolete, who shall rescue us?

Unemployment rates will rise. They have to. There is no need for a bank teller when machines do it error-free. There is no need for a nurse when robots in Japan make it happen. Computers can more accurately diagnose patients than real, living and breathing doctors. Doctors, obsolete; nurses, obsolete; farmers, obsolete; cashiers, obsolete; people, obsolete. Welcome to an era of uselessness. Bleak the future.

But it’s already here.

The philosophers have been contemplating our utter uselessness for a long time. Theologians have come up with ways to endow our lives with meaning. But all attempts have, so far as I can tell, failed.

Written by: Moses Y. Mikheyev

3 thoughts on “Bleak the Future

  1. Schweitzer tackles this head on in his much-ignored Philosophy of Civilization, pointing out that some Eastern religions, with “world-negation” (meaningless existence) as their context, actually compel suicide, although in a slow form. Often, this form of religion has required that one suffer through most of one’s life before checking out, so that the inner essence of the self is sufficiently purified and the ego sufficiently destroyed before one blends into impersonal, passionless Eternity. Similarly, in Western Christianity during the dark ages, all of life became a gradual suicide, since the body was to be ignored and reviled as inherently sinful. Baths were not taken, vermin were allowed to colonize one’s body, and “saints” used various devices to inflict constant pain on themselves, isolated themselves in remote monasteries, or spent their entire lives sitting on stones or pillars. Yet even the contrasting forms of religion–modern Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and more engaged forms of Eastern religion–with world-affirmation as their context–cannot fully escape the omnipresent lure of suicide. So our mindless immersion in frantic, unrelenting, essentially meaningless activity allows us to repress the background of bleakness you speak about, while also indicating that this incessant activity is coming to an end as we become functionally superfluous. When I have time, I would like to put some Schweitzer quotes on this blog about this darkly fascinating subject and the solution he believes he found in the darkness of the African jungle.

    • That is very interesting. I will purchase Schweitzer here in the next couple of days and read it through. It’s long overdue for that! Thank you for all your insightful comments. I haven’t been able to respond to all of them (too busy doing things like looking for employment!).
      As you already know, my article on Marcion is pretty much reflective of this dualist, anti-body philosophy. We are, after all, flesh stuffed with shit, according to Marcion. In Gnosticism, for example, I would think that suicide would be totally okay (at least theoretically). I’m not aware of any texts that deal with suicide per as, but I would assume that it would be permissible. We know that enough Gnostics were willingly going to their deaths through martyrdom that the orthodox were commenting upon that.
      One finds suicidal thinking today amongst some Christians too. Those who want to be raptured from responsibility by Jesus are an example. These are essentially suicidal hopes that religion is supposed to, passively, fulfill. Instead of you taking your own life, and leaving earth, Jesus comes and takes it for you. Consequentially, it’s all the same: you don’t want to be here on earth.

      • “Who will prevent us from making use of the freedom we are allowed, and casting existence from us? Every thinking human being makes acquaintance with this thought. We let it take a deeper hold on us than we suspect from one another, as indeed we are all more oppressed by the riddles of existence than we allow others to notice. …We are ever wandering on slipping rubble above the abyss of pessimism. …Or is may perhaps be that pessimism comes over us, like the bliss of complete rest over those who, tired out, sit down in the snow. …And when we think that the riddles by which we are surrounded can no longer harm us, there once more rises up before us somewhere or other the most terrifying of them all, the fact that the will-to-live can be shattered in suffering or in spiritual night. This enigma, too, before which our will-to-live shudders as before the most inexplicable of all inexplicable things, we must learn to leave unsolved.”

        That’s just a taste of what you’ll find when you read Schweitzer, who perhaps lived the greatest life of the 20th century. Look forward to your reactions to his work.

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