Can’t sleep. Memorial Day everywhere on television and radio. Heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. In Korea I don’t recall anyone, ever, talking about protecting American freedom, or talking about fighting for his country. We were just there. Some of us were there because we were looking for something. It wasn’t freedom. Others were there because they had been drafted by the State. The contest itself interested everybody, volunteers and draftees alike. When a contest involves life and death both, the events of the contest interest everyone in the game. It was the same in Vietnam as in Korea, and I would suppose the same as it is in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finished Jim Crawford’s Confessions of an Antinatalist. He gets better as he goes along. His first book. He’s got a career ahead of him.
I can’t find the paragraph in Crawford’s book where he lays out his thesis in a few lines. The next best thing is to quote what he quotes of David Benatar’s Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence.
“Each one of us was harmed by being brought into existence. That harm is not negligible, because the quality of even the best lives is very bad—-and considerably worse than most people recognize it to be. Although it is obviously too late to prevent our own existence, it is not too late to prevent the existence of further possible people. Creating new people is thus wholly problematic.”
The logic of the statement appears incontrovertible to me. Creating new people is problematic. Billions of them. The amount of suffering in the world is inestimable. Every day hundreds of thousands of women giving birth. At this very moment the agony, the exploding water, the blood. All over the world. For what? To feed our yearly Memorial commemorations? If we were truly interested in ending suffering, we would just stop making people.
It’s not going to happen.
At the same time, I’m not certain I agree that “the quality of even the best lives is very bad …” Maybe I don’t understand what Benatar means by “best.” My own life is not among the best in any sense of that word, yet it does not seem to me to be a very “bad” life either. I think we are talking about suffering here. There has been some suffering, but not near enough of it for me to not want more life. It’s been an ordinary happening, and will soon be finished. Outside the human construct, meaning itself is meaningless.
The great adventure.
Crawford can write a fine line of poetry. In Looking Out Schopoenhauer’s Window his first line reads: “Passions coagulate to form a man.”
He writes. “Hold nonexistence in your right hand, and an eternity of unbearable agony which must be borne in your left. Is there any question as to the most favorable state you would want your child to end up in, after her body has gone to ground?”
Now the brain recalls the night in Hollywood in our rented apartment in the little canyon behind Grauman’s Chinese Theater when I literally paused in my passage from the kitchen to the dining room which was now our bedroom. At that moment the brain had recalled that my wife was pregnant, that we were going to have a child, and that child was coming into a world where atomic warfare could break out at any moment, every moment of the day and night. For a brief moment the brain thought about the horror of bringing a child into a world when what could happen is probably going to happen sooner or later, people being what we are. I didn't know what to do with what the brain had given me.
Well, the child is 24 years old now, she’s had a difficult life, a bad life I suppose, but she hasn’t been nuked yet, and there is no sign that she wants out of it. I'll keep my fingers crossed.