The Dead Thread

The entire Featured Writer staff of Star City weighs in on last week’s article. WARNING: More issues-per-square-inch than any other Rizzo article, ever.

After my article "Bringing Out The Dead," the Star City Mailing List (at yahoogroups) got all jiggy and generally insane in many membranes. The following represents about the deepest "conversation" you will ever see on a Magic-related website. At first glance – and second through thirtieth – there seems to be no relation whatsover to Magic, but it’s there.

This entire thread was started by Lauren Passmore’s seemingly innocent comments regarding my article and features Shawn Jackson, Reeve Geary, Jon Chabot, Mike Mason, Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar, Aaron Forsythe, The Ferrett, Israel Marques, Michael Granaas, and Daniel Crane piping in from time to time with their thoughts. And I have a thing or two to say about a thing or two up in here as well.

I found the "conversation" to be extremely engaging and dare I say that I was surprised by a few of those mysterious Net writer people. Upon reading, you may find the individual writer’s opinions on far more than Type II decks and Planeshift draft strategies; you may find out a bit about who they are and what may or may not make them tick.

Enjoy it or not, but clear your dance card for the next twenty minutes and jump on in. Or just jump around in a manner befitting either House of Pain or Kriss Kross. Or click the back button and get some "normal" technology. But technology is in the eye of the beholder. And stuff.

The took-on-a-life-of-it’s-own "Bah, Rizzo" thread (abridged version):

PASSMORE: I guess I’m just one of the dead. BLECH.

RIZZO: That is likely a heartfelt response. I’ll take it.

PASSMORE: I found your article very depressing this week. I guess you were just going to extremes to make a point, but its never so black and white!

RIZZO: The world is gray. Depression was not one of the emotions I was shooting for; anger, resentment, or some sort of inspiration would’ve been good, but, again, I’ll take "blech" and mix it with the "you’re a bigot," "you friggin’ rule," and "how dare you judge" responses I’ve received, put them in a tall glass, and swallow those bad boys like Stallone sucked down those raw eggs in "Rocky."

JACKSON: However, living in a world of extremes would be much more interesting than eating paste and wearing grey all day.

GEARY: I’m dead too. I find it a little troubling that you discount the money factor – because after all, how passionate could you be if you did not have the time or money resources for said passion?

CHABOT: I enjoy writing. More than playing Magic, or drawing (which I do for a living currently) or even having sex, I truly enjoy the creative process involved with writing, but does that mean I want to be a "writer"? Not necessarily. However, more and more I am finding myself with the excuses you’ve been mentioning. (Girlfriend, work, playing Magic, friends in trouble and others moving, etc.) It’s difficult to find the time to write, and I have several projects in various states of incompletion. However, since I am aware of the problem (and have been for some time) and am trying to rectify it, am I dead, dying, or undead? And how can I abandon friends (or a girlfriend, for that matter?) when they need me, just because my own passions are suffering as a result?

JACKSON: My great-grandfather (who turned 97 the other day – woo!) once told me (and I am paraphrasing): "A busy person will always find time to do things; dismissing things because you think you have no time is a cop-out"

RIZZO: Money does not enter the equation when it comes to passion.
Point: take money and shove it up your [EDIT], sideways. I realize I’m going to be WAY in the minority here, but if you allow your passion to be tainted with money, then you suck. I remember way back someone sent me a quote (paraphrasing): "If someone is willing to pay you for what you love to do, then do that [EDIT] with the quickness!" (That was me, incidentally – The Ferrett) How much money do you need to engage in the activities that you are passionate about? Not much. Ever. Choose any pursuit that could have passion attached, and I’ll tell you that you need zero to very little dollars to do it. Magic? Buy a few cards and trade/borrow like mad. Stock Car Racing? Get a sponsor. Writing? Buy a friggin’ legal pad and a pen. Et cetera…

MASON: Wouldn’t passion extend beyond money? For example, my passion for certain hobbies and loves transcends monetary resources… And time spent upon them is an indication of a passion rather than a prerequisite.

RIZZO: Leave it to Mason to sum up my entire feelings on the situation in one friggin’ sentence. I should really learn how to write. Better yet, to make it fair, Mason should bring himself down to my communication level.

MASON: Dammit, if I’m summing things up in one sentence, it’s obviously a fluke, because as anyone knows I speak like a drunken hummingbird. I’m losing my touch. I’m becoming concise. I’m….I don’t know WHAT I am. ::sob::

JMS: I found Rizzo’s article depressing, too, but mostly because I think positive feedback – leading by example and showing something inspiring – is a better teaching tool than negative feedback, namely criticizing how others live and hoping they feel shame.

RIZZO: I don’t wish to shame people; rather, I wish encourage them to ask themselves unpleasant questions. I think that might qualify as inspiration; who says inspiration has to be positive? The way I see it, inspiration is anything that results in a feeling. If I can inspire anger, hate, love, whatever, it’s all the same at the end of the day.

FORSYTHE: I agree with Goblin Mason; it’s not about how much money you need to do stuff you’re passionate about… It’s about how much money you need to NOT do the stuff you’re NOT passionate about. The more money I get from playing Magic, the less time I have to devote to a job I don’t like, etc. It works out.

JMS: But would a world in which everyone was playing Magic, or raquetball, or fencing to their heart’s content be a better world? I don’t think it would be. I really don’t.

RIZZO: Big point: You will always be able to find an excuse for not following your passion. Always. No time. No money. Wife won’t let me. I can’t get away from my job. Bull. [EDIT].

JMS: Personally, I think the role of money in society and why people work are two veeeery complicated sociological issues that we aren’t going to adequately cover here. That said, even if we were to devote a lot of time hashing out all the details I think we would be missing the point.

MASON: I remember saying something similar, though I’m not sure if it’s me you were thinking of. Regardless, my entire life’s goal has been to follow my passions – and in a perfect world, to find a way of making a living via those passions. My desire to spend my life doing only that which I love doesn’t seem to be [EDIT] at all; who’s enjoying life and living their dream more? The person who works at Wendy’s and makes time to play Magic and write articles at night, or the person who spends all day doing what he loves, period? It’s arbitrary, yes, but… If someone IS willing to pay me for what I love to do, that doesn’t compromise my passions or interests or morals in the least. I’m going to be following my passions anyway; receiving compensation’s merely icing on the cake.

RIZZO:For some reason I think that accepting payment for what I would willingly do for free somehow taints me. Where doing it for free means that I do it because I want to, being paid implies taking on the obligations of a "job" and seems to be to much like working FOR someone instead of doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it. I’d much rather think that I submit articles to Pete because I enjoy it than think that I am obligated because I work FOR Pete. I guess that might be the result of being my own boss for so long. Never again will I be able to work FOR someone else; working WITH them is about the only way that I could accept payment. Weird and a bit altruistic, I concede. Heck, when I finally get off my ass and burn my CD, I’ll send that bad boy to Napster for free. I remember a quote on Meridian during
it’s first heyday: "Tech wants to be free." -Paul Barclay (I think) Damn straight.

FERRETT: Here’s my take, my wrestling friend; ya gots yerself a bad attitude about capitalism. I firmly believe it’s possible to do what you love and to make money at it -otherwise, I wouldn’t be taking that gigantic step off a cliff that I am and going freelance writing.

CHABOT: John, I can see your point about following your credo and avoiding hamburgers, but what I don’t see is why you would not want to be paid for doing what you enjoy, since that should, in turn, give you even more time to do what you like (be it writing or playing Magic), since you’ll need to spend that much less time working.

RIZZO: I guess it has something to do with some moronic sense of purity or some other such stuff. Maybe I just need to get my ass kicked or something.

MARQUEZ: That’s okay Rizzo, we forgive you. As for someone kicking your ass, get Russell Eckerd to do it.

JMS: Not that following your passions is a bad message – it isn’t. People need to be reminded of this all the time. And "fun" is something that should be in everyone’s lives. People should smile more, that much is certain.

FORSYTHE: In college I did a good bit of drawing, I loved it, and I eventually got a gig doing a daily serial in the Pitt News called "Dark City." After two months of producing a strip per day, I hated doing it. I knew I could never do it for a living, as the deadlines and critical eye of editors/readers tainted the whole experience. For some unknown reason, Magic is different. It’s so diverse, that I can write about a billion things, have no need for installment-to-installment cohesiveness, and in general I find it very enjoyable. And getting paid for it is a real nice side bonus.

FERRETT: Doing what you love? Great. Doing what you love and getting paid? A bonus. The way I look at it, the money is a nice side benefit, but it doesn’t "taint" you for taking it any more than getting, say, nice attractive groupies after a good performance "taints" your music. As long as you’re still doing it on your own terms, you’re MORE alive – the gulf between money and art that society has always placed has seemed infinitely stupid to me. It is entirely possible to be rich AND have your integrity intact. (It’s also possible to be rich and whoring yourself out, like the Rolling Stones, but that’s a different matter.)

JMS: Rather than encouranging everyone to follow their individual passions, which is a very Western way of seeing the world, I would rather people work towards economic and social justice. If people’s work was devoted to making sure everyone around them avoided hardship (both economic and social), THAT’s what will take the grayness out. And I wouldn’t care why they were doing it or whether they were getting paid to do it. Work for the greater good, passion or no, and you’ll make the world better. Period.

RIZZO: I might have to disagree with that one, chief, because what is the greater good? Who defines it? How can we determine if someone is meeting their full obligations to work for the greater good? That’s the problem: people will do the wrong thing when no one is looking.

JMS: Oops – you caught me, Riz. I got caught using my wife Sarah’s language instead of thinking about careful terms. Of course you’re right that "greater good" is subjective and isn’t going to lead anywhere. In Unitarian-Universalist circles, "greater good" means something concrete but not here. Sorry about that.

MASON: The problem with that is thus: The "greater good" is a nebulous statement analogous to that of "utopia" or "perfection" or "infinite" that cannot be achieved or truly realized. I would challenge the statement and say that there have been numerous individuals throughout history who have worked for the sole purpose of perpetuating their own glory who have inadvertently -or for, perhaps what you call the wrong reasons – made the world "better." The majority of us are active participants in society. Even those who are reclusive often have some sort of job, and even working as a janitor is a contribution no matter what the stigma may be towards that certain job. Who is to judge that a person who passionately achieves their own ideals is less worthy than an impassionate person who believes he’s working towards the greater good? Many people have something that they can hold dear to themselves and say, "This is what I want to accomplish on Earth."

JMS: Once everyone has the luxury of not worrying about the social and economic subsistence that forces them to do jobs they hate, THEN I’ll happily encourage everyone to go do what they love. Right now, it smacks of an anarchy that helps very few people in my opinion.

MASON: What if mine happens to be the sole noble cause of wanting to be the best father that I can be? What if I accomplish that and have a wonderful family with two or three beautiful children and provide an environment that is healthy, supportive, loving, and empowering? If that is my passion – if that is how I define my success as a person – what makes that less worthy than someone who devotes their life to rectifying social injustice? I have severe problems with that sort of justification.

RIZZO: I’ve heard "bigotry," "ignorance," "elitism"… And now "anarchy?" Point: a life without passion sucks. I make no claim as to how the rest of the pieces should fall into place, but I do offer "live with passion or die without it."

JMS: You know, that one surprised me. Not the "live with passion…" thing but that you took offense to the anarchy statement. I kinda thought you were an anarchist just messing with people for messing’s sake. That may have been some bad misrepresentation, though.

MASON: Anarchy is reaching a bit, I feel. There seems to be an assumption, which I could be wrong about, that those who live for their passions are those who care to contribute nothing to society, and that such a worldview can only result in negativity. Again, I strongly disagree. If Jill loves to work at hospitals and wants to save lives for a living, that’s great. If I don’t, and would rather spend my life writing, that’s great. If Rizzo wants to make his mark in the world through music, that’s great. I suspect that if you took a great cross-section of society, that you’d find many people who love what they do, and many who DON’T love what they do, and I don’t think that the careers of these people would be easily dissected into "good for society" and "bad for society."

JMS: But again, what does "make his mark on the world" mean??

MASON: The manner in which his expression of self impacts the individuals he comes into contact with, and to an extent, the individuals that indirectly come into contact with him via said self-expression (such as music, writing, etc.) That could mean a songwriter, a politician, or a father.

JMS: And you seem to think I’m talking about careers as helping contribute, which I’m not. My job is just a job. I contribute in other ways, though, and am frequently looking to do so. But I come at it from helping people have a level playing field, respect, trust, etc. instead of necessarily following what I consider "my passion." Like I said, they get us to the same point just using a different lens.

MASON: But you’re also the guy responsible for destroying Magic, right? ๐Ÿ™‚

JMS: I still think the "passion" argument goes to dangerous places if you follow it down the path a ways. And I don’t think the shooting-star people are necessarily the ones to be idealized in history, though they do get the most press. Just my opinion.

MASON: Certainly there are those whose passions are destructive, to either/both themselves or others. And fame does not mean glory. Unfortunately, the people who SHOULD be idealized are not the ones who often are. Look at John F.Kennedy or Abraham Lincoln, for example. Or Michael Jackson.

RIZZO: I can see your point, but I have found that "offending" people’s emotions works at least as well. Getting them riled up by seeming to criticize them might be even more effective. But I’m not sure. I do know for a fact that when I was on my "ID’s suck" kick, that there were more than a few people who were in an ID situation and at least THOUGHT about it. Whether they played it out or ID’d is irrelevant: they thought about it. And that’s a good start.

JMS: I kinda thought you were an anarchist just messing with people for messing’s sake.

RIZZO: While I enjoy doing that, there is always a point in the end: think. Even if you talk to someone about my article and you both agree that I’m full of crap, I got you to think. Even if you think I’m idiotic, you did think about what I wrote. Score!

MASON: Of course, I often wonder: If something offends me, why does it do so? Would it offend me for Rizzo to say that I am "dead"? Not really. I both like and respect him. However, ultimately, depending on your particular spiritual viewpoint, there’s only a handful of people/entities whose judgments should qualify your life. If you deem his judgment false, why is it also offensive?

JMS: Oh sure. I agree with this. I was just questioning the method of delivery, is all. But Rizzo very clearly said – as I figured he would – that his "thing" is sort of grabbing people by the shoulders and shakin’ them around to think. I can dig it, I just get a little sad seeing people shamed into thinking rather than inspired. Were I to read Rizzo’s article and qualify myself in the "dead" area, I’d shrug, and roll my eyes at his ignorance. Why do his opinions on passionless individuals offend anyone?

MASON: Nod. I see more what you were saying. Shame and inspiration are frequently hand-in-hand, however; there are a number of individuals who self-inspire, there are a number who are only inspired by a person’s passionate plea, and there are others who are best served by being slapped in the face, their gander gotten up by a vocal opinion.

JACKSON: To add to Mike’s commentary here, I think the way Rizzo wrote the article was the only way that he could have gotten people’s attention. Think of it this way, if it weren’t for (unnamed ornate religion)’s way of shaming you for your actions, would any of their flock lead the straight and narrow? However, I think Rizzo’s article was more of a inquisition. By that I mean if it were written in say, Israel’s conversational style, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. (Just using you as an example, Israel; I’m not mocking you.) Sometimes conventional writing just doesn’t produce the effect desired, and the writer needs to use alternate ways of persuading the reader.

RIZZO: Jay, you have a Ph.D., I have 1.35 years of community college! Of course the opportunity to miss the point is all up in here. I’m not really sure what the point was other than to get people to think. On that face, I’m certain I succeeded.

JMS: Oh, and Rizzo, this one’s important so I’ll capitalize it like I’m screamin’ at you: WHAT THE HELL IS WITH THAT CRAP COMMENT ABOUT ME HAVING A PHD AND YOU HAVING A COMMUNITY COLLEGE BACKGROUND?!? What, that means I’m smarter? I see complex situations more complexly? Yuck. Hopefully you’re just pullin’ my chain to get me riled up. And there was no "point" to miss… I felt stupid for saying that the second I pressed "Send."

RIZZO: Well, yeah, I was. See, according to the dead, you are inherently superior to me as you are educated while I’m Joe Dumbguy. Yet we are having a mutual conversation that is both enlightening and respectful on all ends. How’s that for unlikely? And it’s cool, too. But I don’t wish for everyone to quit their jobs and write or play music or Magic all day. No one dreams of someday being the guy who cleans up innards and blood in the emergency room when they grow up, but it has to be done.

JMS: But you can at least see the slippery slope you’re on. Some work HAS to be done. And people NEED a certain amount of money to survive. And that work and getting that money takes TIME… Besides, we’re talking all ideals here. A world where everyone is trying to improve the world is just as unfeasible as one in which everyone is doing what they love. It’s why I’m not good at these kinds of conversations.

MASON: Ideals are fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ However, my point is that by seeking to explore one’s own loves and passions, one is able to better manifest themselves to the world (that whole self-actualization thing). Therefore, loosely stated, "everyone doing what they love" can lead to "everyone improving the world", but if you take the converse, "everyone improving the world" does not lead to "everyone doing what they love."

JACKSON: This could also lead into a discussion of Aristotle’s view of Happiness. In that by doing things to gratify yourself momentarily does not make you happy, it only comforts you. Happy is something that shapes over a lifetime. Whoops, probably a discussion for another time.

JMS: But if you’re getting into semantics, then what’s "passion" or "magic"? It’s something you know when you feel, right? I would say the same thing about contributing to people other than yourself (or even better to people you see in hardship, but I’ll get off that horse)… you know it when you’re doing it. Hrm. And it’s suddenly occuring to me that my blind optimism is shining through. Damn.

RIZZO: Sometimes the greater good isn’t so good after all. It’s way too subjective to work on any peoples that have free will and the desires that humans have. Maybe ants can do it, but people can’t for very long.

MASON: I would think that a person’s passions are those beliefs/actions that one cares the most about, that mentally and/or emotionally and/or physically lifts a person to a higher level than that of their mundane actions. For example, when I write, I FEEL better. It’s almost like a high, minus the delusions (please, no comments on my writing being deluded; I know you want to). It is something which is, perhaps, your penultimate method of expression and self-love. Good question, though. I’ll have to think on it. ๐Ÿ™‚

JMS: Again, I’m not so sure about this. What I agree with is that societies are infinitely complex with a lot of "noise" in the system that will innately produce inequity. But if you’re going this route I would say societies are infinitely complex with a lot of "noise" in the system that will innately produce "dead" folks.

MASON: Definitely. No matter how good I think *I* am as a person, it’s still arbitrary.

CHABOT: Why is watching TV a sign of no-passion, when playing Magic is? While I’ll admit, Magic is more interactive and challenging (unless you’re playing combo decks), it’s still only a form of entertainment. I know people who are passionate about TV, loving to watch certain shows, becoming Fan Club members, arguing plot points, examining camera angles used, et cetera. Are they really dead? Or simply from our own biased point of view?

GRANAAS: The simple answer is that the engaged TV viewers you describe are the minority… Most addicted TV viewers are just shutting down their minds and passively absorbing the "stuff" presented to them. I used to be one of this crowd and it was a huge waste… I’d actually watch shows I hated because I had an hour until the show I liked would come on. There are a lot of hours of my life that were wasted that I wish I could get back. There is no intellectual engagement, no socializing, no nothing other than turning into a veggie for several hours.

RIZZO: For the most part they succeed in raping your mind. Watching the commercials during Tempation Island is about the most disgusting thing a human being can do to themsleves that is legal.

GRANAAS:I am not criticizing the occassional veiwer, we all need to chill sometimes, I am not criticizing the person with a show or two that they adore because they are not removing themselves from life, and may even use a VCR to force the show to accommodate their life. The folks who are in trouble are the ones who just turn on the TV with no thought to doing anything else and watch until there is nothing else to do except go to bed. These folks have ceased to be members of the human race. The only positive thing is that they can at least hold a job, unlike most dope addicts, so they aren’t hurting society in the same way.

MARQUEZ: I’d just like to know what’s wrong with watching TV, Rizzo? I have a few shows that I truly enjoy watching and I consider watching them a very good use of time. But thanks for realizing that TV is only evil if you do it because you have nothing better to do, Mike. On the plus side, Rizzo, you have once again achieved your life’s ambition: To evoke some mad emotion.

RIZZO: Television is the lowest form of entertainment on Earth. You don’t watch it, you let it suck the life out of you. Although, there are a select few quality shows that I might watch (not really), the friggin’ commercials bombard you in yet another attempt to suck the friggin’ life out of you. Why don’t they just put a naked chick out there with the product in her hand and let her say, "Buy this worthless product you mindless piece of [EDIT] that we have no respect for?"

CRANE: What is TV? TV is the first computer! Put TVs and computers together and all you need is the car to have THE THREE REASONS why humans are exponentially more unhappy than they were before these inventions. There’s so much crap on TV, and there are so many alternate forms of entertainment. Now, I know that I watch some TV – the Simpsons and Voyager, to name a few – but I certainly haven’t forgotten the TRUE source of entertainment and information: books. Anything that you could possibly see on TV could be read in a book. So, I’m against TV and for books. But I don’t hate TV, and I don’t think it should be destroyed – or at least, I haven’t completely formulated an educated enough opinion to confidently state that yet. However, I will restate that I believe that TV has played a contributing role in the downfall of human society (although Greed and Hatred are the two foulest things on earth [two words to prove why: "Reservations" and "Holocaust"]).

MASON: What if you like naked chicks? Ahem. While I generally agree that most television is mindless fluff, I have to stick up for shows on TLC, Discovery, Animal Planet, etc. A lot of the televised material on those channels is education presented in an enlivened format, and I simply adore it. Being able to turn on the television at two a.m. and randomly find myself watching a show on the thalidomide horrors from thirty years ago is something that contributes much to my life – in the same way that I consider anything that educates me to be a greater contribution than that which does not.

GRANAAS: The only way that the addicted passive viewer is not "dead" is if they would never have amounted to anything anyway and so they really have nothing better to do with their time. Since I tend to believe that virtually all people can amount to something, I have no problem saying that this behavior is problematic. (Speaking of problematic, I never ever got to see the second half of the final episode of Happy Days… Anybody got it on tape or can tell me what happened?)

GEARY: I can’t help you with Happy Days. Doesn’t Radar die?

MASON: Of course, you can also consider that humans are innately selfish, and that there is true value in encouraging the people whose passions happen to be working towards said justice.

JMS: I don’t buy the "humans are innately selfish" thing. It’s not how I see the world, at least. Humans have complex motivations, some of which lead to selfish behavior. But if humans were innately selfish then there would be no room for altruism, which clearly happens every day.

JACKSON: This is kind of like the whole "Everything leads back to sex" argument that I’ve been in before. I completely agree with Mike here.

CRANE: We live in an innately selfish and evil society where it takes an outstanding individual to shine through the blackness of the world. There are many good people, but the amount of good people will never undo the amount of evil that’s been done by bad people. Adolf Hitler, one man, was able to kill eleven million people. Abraham Lincoln WOULD have been able to save that many; he’s one of those amazing people, you know. But, because of the evil in society, the black people that Abraham Lincoln "freed" are, even today, still slaves of society.

RIZZO: Altruism results in denying yourself of your selfishness. Don’t you think the Pope ever has a day where he goes, "Jeez, why can’t someone get a friggin’ clue and solve their own problems for a change?" That is selfish. But he denies it for the "greater good" thing he is supposed to present. People are selfish – it’s a human condition.

JMS: I think you’re confounding "passion" and "justice." They are certainly not mutually exclusive, and the stuff you are describing as "passion" I would say is improving the lives of others. I did a research study on the cleaning industry and I’ll tell you that there are many, many people who have a calling for cleaning and believe they are making the world a better place by doing it. There are also those just mopping for money and feeling pissed upon. I’m also one of those people who believes my greatest contribution is through my children. Neither the janitor nor the father is doing ANYTHING less than the activist, and I don’t mean to say they are. We don’t all need to be activists per se, we just need to be contributing.

MASON: I was addressing your statement "Rather than encouranging everyone to follow their individual passions, which is a very Western way of seeing the world, I would rather people work towards economic and social justice," which would seem to indicate that you found them mutually exclusive.

RIZZO: Did Beethoven contribute? He was a selfish [EDIT], but I’d say that his contribution to humanity is at least as great as Einstein’s albeit on a completely different level, but a contribution that will likely outlast even Mr. Patent Clerk’s Theories.

MASON: Ah, good example with Beethoven there.

JMS: Bottom line: Where passion and contribution overlap, I’m all for Rizzo’s argument. I just don’t think passion is necessary nor sufficient for a better world.

JACKSON: I disagree with that. Without passion, for anything, we become nothing more than machines. Without a purpose, a goal, or even a simple hobby, our minds become complacent, and our society will begin to deteriorate. Just look at what happened to the Romans when they became lazy and comfortable.

RIZZO: Without passion there would’ve been no Beethoven. No Hemingway. No MC Escher. Would the world be better if those guys cleaned bathrooms for a living instead? Hell no.

MASON: Maybe if MC Escher DESIGNED bathrooms, the world would be better just because it’d be more interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thus the problem with Communism. But moreso, "greater good," being nebulous, is victim to the prevailing social norms and mores of the contemporary era. Great tragedies have been perpetuated against humanity by those professing the "greater good", and people use that sort of ideal or concept as a mantra against self-examination.

CHABOT: I’m not going to drag this around too much, but to Jay/Rizzo/Mike’s points, Anarchy is not all bad, in concept, and neither is communism. Jay mentioned the Western view point and your absolutely correct, Communism won’t work in the west, as Rizzo stated, since everytime nobody is looking they will goof off. (Case in point, I am writing this while at work) But it does work in the East. Asian ideology is based upon "we" instead of "I", which is interesting since their religions, (Buddism, Taoism and Confusicism) are based upon the goals of personal spiritual/body harmony and a return to a more primiative state of "non-conciousness". None-the-less they are more willing to move towards a common goal, which is why I would
expect them to be a MAJOR force at PT: Tokyo, since I’ve heard that APAC has the majority of the attendees for it. If that is the case, Aaron you may want to be on the look out for another UBER team among the Japanese or Thai players. Does this have anything to do with the price of rice? Probably not. It’s early morning and I felt like rambling a bit.

MASON: By being the best person that we can be, defined upon our own terms and our own strengths and weaknesses, we can exert the most positive influence upon the world around us. But, in my opinion, it comes from being true to yourself and furthering your passions and ideals.

JMS: Sorry, but I’m not compelled by this. Whereas you see "greater good" as being problematic, I see "being the best person we can be" as being problematic. And a little selfish. Besides, don’t "ideals" run the full gamut of good-to-bad (to put it simply) as everything else we’ve been talking about?

MASON: Set aside moral conceptions when you examine the roots of human behavior. Humans are selfish. We innately serve the dictates of our own minds first.

JACKSON: Is being the best person you can be selfish? Absolutely. However, we must realize that passion, determination, and the ability to raise one above oneself are the main reasons why humans are even still on this planet.

MASON: Of course it is; yet which is preferable, a person who isn’t manifesting their best self to the world, or a person who IS? Why would lesser be considered greater? In my experiences, people who don’t take the time to develop themselves are shortchanging themselves and the people they interact with and placing an artificial limit on their own life experience and what they can contribute to those around them.

JMS: The good news is that I think we’re all getting to the same place
from different routes. The very fact that we’re having this discussion and trying to figure out the best route towards nirvana or whatever means we’re probably a little less "dead" in Rizzo’s eyes ๐Ÿ™‚

MASON: Heh… There is no best route. Part of my belief structure is that everyone finds their own path to enlightenment, and that should be respected. If you feel passion isn’t necessary, hey, have a good time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just enjoy discussing philosophy.

RIZZO: Yep. Tru dat. With kicker. These conversations are all about each of our own ideas of how to be alive.

MASON: Which, ultimately, we all decide for ourselves. If one person is happy helping others and another person is happy killing others, they are both selfish individuals. It’s the result of their actions that is judged by society, but the root of both is the same: selfishness. Can we say one is better? More constructive? Certainly; society as an entity has a self-fulfilling need to determine behavior that’s acceptable and non-acceptable for belonging to that group. Set aside moral conceptions when you examine the roots of human behavior. Humans are selfish. We innately serve the dictates of our own minds first.

CHABOT: All right! A discussion worth having, philosophy! (Which has
absolutely nothing, or at least very, very little, to do with Magic.)

GRANAAS: Yippee Skippee, Philosophy….can I play too?

MASON: No, go home. And your little dog, too.

GRANAAS: I don’t have a dog ๐Ÿ™

MASON: Neither do I. Dogs are inferior to cats. (How many arguments can we create?)

GRANAAS: Selfishness = good/bad? Depends on how you define it…most define it as being consistent with short-term ill considered impulse fullfilment… In this sense it is bad… It leads to lots of bad habits like eating twinkies as a steady diet… It leads to all sorts of health problems which the individual and society have to pay for in one way or another….Bad, bad, bad…. Nobody wins.

MASON: (Having learned from the last discussion, Mason quickly jaunts out to www.m-w.com and researches the word.) 1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others 2 : arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others

GRANAAS: If you define it as "enlightened self-interest," then selfish is not nearly so bad…in fact many would argue that it is good (see Ayn Rand for full discussion). This form of selfishness involves longer-term non-impulsive behavior…Things like eating your veggies and exercising so that you can live long enough to enjoy the grandkids and that money you’ve been saving up for your retirement… Results in less health problems for you, less health costs for society, and your savings help create jobs for other people….Good, good, good…. Everybody wins.

MASON: Ah, I love Ayn Rand. I’m a huge proponent of the process of self-actualization, and would indeed argue that selfishness is good. Perhaps through my own experiences I am biased, of course (aren’t we all? Perception is reality.) However, I have seen more harm than good come from individuals who do not know themselves or explore themselves. I believe that focusing and devoting yourself to maximizing your own potential and traits and expression is the best manner in which to make a positive impact on those around you, because it creates a sense of self and an efficient perception of reality that helps to discipline and structure your ethics, deepen your interpersonal relationships, and develop an autonomy that is resistant to the negative effects of enculturation.

GRANAAS: Wow, what a mouthful….Let’s see, can I say the same thing in about 20 less words……???

MASON: Yeah. "Self-actualization." ::grin::

GRANAAS: Yes, self actualization is good. I’m not sure I’m talking about full self-actualization (but I could be persuaded), but I am sure that the "enlightened self-interest" version of selfish is at the very least on the road to self-actualization.

MASON: I hope so, or I’ve greatly misled myself for a number of years. ๐Ÿ™‚

GRANAAS: Hmmm, something to argue with…something to argue with….Damn, this is tough when I think that we basically agree…

MASON: Darn, it would be interesting. Damn our psychology backgrounds lending themselves to our agreement on conceptualizations.

GRANAAS: Communisim: Works great in small groups…tribes, clans, sports teams…one for all and all for one…does not work well in larger societies…why? In small groups you are part of the group…you are part of the common good…in a large group you may be part of the larger good, but it is hard to see how helping out someone you will never see or even hear of is for your common good. Enculturation isn’t always negative…so there, take that!

MASON: Heh..didn’t say it was. Ha! Certain aspects of it can be, however. Being able to reap the benefits of the positive, contribute positive in return, and avoid the negative, can be nothing BUT positive.

GRANAAS: China is not prospering as a communist country….China is prospering because they have corrupted their communisim with some capitalism. The economic hotspots in Asia have all adopted some level of capitalism.

MASON: It’s an opinion. Those who want to lead passionless lives and work towards a sense of duty to the rest of humankind, I have no problem with. The only people that I have a problem with are those who deliberately seek to undermine the lives of others, or to cause them pain or hardship – and even then, fine, throw ’em on an island somewhere. ๐Ÿ˜‰

JMS: On that, of course, we all agree. Of course, I would want to find
out why they’re so angry and really work through their pain rather
than throw them on an island, but I’m kinda a psychologist. Heh. I am waaay out of my league, talking morality. That’s my wife’s – the Unitarian-universalist minister – area. I think I just come across as dumb trying to spout off. Ahem. I think I am much more comfortable talking Magic. Still, I’ll at least try and clarify a couple of things.

MASON: Your wife’s a minister? Fascinating. I’ve always appreciated the unitarian viewpoint.Cognitive dissonance is the principle in which individuals suffer an state of tension or duress when they behave in a manner that is inconsistent with their self-defined worldview. Certain individual’s actions may manifest in a way that we determine is altruistic, but the primary reason they perform these actions is because they feel the need, the desire, and the selfish want to behave in this manner. Because all humans are selfish! Whoo-hoo! Ahem.

JMS: The plan of getting people to think, clearly, has succeeded.

RIZZO: Then Happy Birthday to me and stuff, for a man, a plan, a canal, success.

To be continued by many people in many places for a very long time…

You may now return to your lives, hopefully with some burning questions. Or at least with very sore eyes.

John Friggin’ Rizzo