Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2017-05-08T20:20:18Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com May 8. http://ranprieur.com/#6a8bb79e73f18fc5d55a287d9c7bb41ee769868d 2017-05-08T20:20:18Z May 8. I'm busy and don't have a post ready, so I'll run with something I just wrote on the subreddit, answering this post and James Hillman's argument that we shouldn't look at childhood trauma to solve psychological problems, because other cultures don't do that.

Everyone I know has been damaged by their childhood, and a lot of people get better by looking into that. It's not a myth -- we think that way because it works. I agree that Freud pulled a lot of ideas out of his ass, but that doesn't invalidate the whole idea of looking at your deep personal history.

Now, if it's true that traditional cultures never do that, then there are two possibilities. 1) Those cultures are raising kids much better than us. 2) The way they're raising kids is so universal and so ingrained in their culture that questioning it is impossible.

Another way to look at it: in a time of cultural flux, we can't afford to take the way we were raised for granted. We have to look into how our identity was formed, we have to take apart that black box and see if it still serves us. And I'd rather live in a world where we try different ways of raising kids and make mistakes, than a world where there's only one way that's never questioned.

By the way, that same subreddit post leads with the idea that we shouldn't fight bad feelings -- we should embrace and explore them. I totally agree.

May 5. http://ranprieur.com/#f44654967d7adf7cb292814ee9416334c1ba5094 2017-05-05T17:50:34Z May 5. As promised, a suicide playlist. Most of these songs came from Leigh Ann, and she also had a bunch that I didn't use, including "I'm Afraid of Japan" by Owen Pallett and "Good Day To Die" by Travis. The list could be better, but I'm happy with what I could patch together in a couple days.

I've never seriously considered suicide, but selling most of my stuff and moving out of my house is like the worst of dying and living -- letting go, doing all the work, and no resolution.
Big Star - What's Going Ahn (1973)
Nothing here about dying, but it's very sad, and it leads into the next song, by a band that sounds a lot like Big Star's third album.
Money - You Look Like A Sad Painting On Both Sides Of The Sky (2016)
Benjamin Clementine - Cornerstone (2015)
Again, the lyrics don't mention a suicide, but I like that interpretation.
Carissa's Wierd - So You Wanna Be A Superhero (2002)
That edge in her voice is so unsettling.
Badly Drawn Boy - A Minor Incident (2002)
The band has said that the lyrics are a suicide note from a mother to her son.
Bob Dylan - Ballad of Hollis Brown (1962)
The best known version is not on YouTube, but this is pretty close.
Violent Femmes - Country Death Song (1984)
This is so similar to Ballad of Hollis Brown that it's almost a cover, and a really good one.
The Decemberists - We Both Go Down Together (2005)
Okkervil River - John Allyn Smith Sails (2007)
About the poet John Berryman, incorporating the traditional song Sloop John B, made famous by the Beach Boys.
Get Well Soon - If This Hat Is Missing I Have Gone Hunting (2008)
I love that weird crescendo.
Band of Horses - The Funeral (2006)
About living on the edge of death as a heroin addict.
Orphans & Vandals - Terra Firma (2009)
A long and challenging song that I didn't appreciate until listening several times.
Nick Drake - Saturday Sun (1969)
This must be the saddest song possible, because it also has so much beauty.

May 3. http://ranprieur.com/#8f466e03fb7cff0a438f4ef209b1517f47f20663 2017-05-03T15:30:38Z May 3. Continuing from Monday, a reader reminds me that jungle tribes are almost never repressive, because everyone knows how to survive on their own, so if they don't like the way things are run, they can just walk away.

We can't do that. I know because I spent most of my thirties trying to walk away, and it turned out that homesteading requires a ton of driving, and intentional communities default to the highest and most expensive standard of living of all their members and the workload to support it. Now my advice is to get an income of $10-15k a year by any means available, and find a city with dirt cheap housing where you don't have to own a car. But to truly walk away, you have to die.

The nice thing about keeping unhappy people alive, is that they're more perceptive than happy people. They understand better how the world needs to change. There are valuable things that you can only learn at the edge of darkness, and we need some people to go there and come back. Or, seriously considering suicide enables you to consider a whole range of less extreme options.

This subreddit thread has some thoughts about suicide, and some songs, so on Friday I plan to post a suicide playlist.

But now I'm going to annoy you all by writing about sports. My new favorite NWSL team is the Boston Breakers, who have always been terrible but this year they rebuilt, and I predicted they'd make the playoffs with world class midfielder Rose Lavelle and three other rookie first rounders. But it turns out their most dangerous player is Adriana Leon, a fifth year veteran whose pro career until now has been disappointing. After regaining confidence in Europe, she's been on fire this year, and she was just player of the week with a goal, two assists, and two near-goals. That one-touch assist at 25 seconds is brilliant, and you can tell that the whole team is in sync like no other American team except North Carolina, who they play on Sunday.

May 1. http://ranprieur.com/#033acc81b3ac28990e5e386a82586fc872dc7dc6 2017-05-01T13:10:11Z May 1. A reader correctly pointed out that my mental struggles are situational, not chronic. I was a happy little kid, and I'm confident that I'll regain my full capacity for pleasure, and adequate motivation, when I get some stuff sorted out. So don't worry if I go deeper into the subject of depression by writing about suicide.

Super-smart blogger Sarah Perry, who lately has been posting on Ribbonfarm, wrote a pro-suicide book called Every Cradle is a Grave. It's mostly philosophical arguments that don't work for me -- and yet I agree that suicide should be fully legal and fully socially accepted.

My argument is practical. If suicide is normalized, it will become a very powerful form of social protest. Right now I can think of only two contexts where suicide is an effective protest: when a teenager is being bullied, and when a Buddhist monk sets himself on fire. But when tens of thousands of Americans with shitty lives overdose on opioids, everyone blames the drugs. It's not acceptable for us to say, "Despite having all these doodads of progress, my life is psychologically so hopeless that my best option is to gamble with death."

Imagine if suicide were part of the toolkit for making a better world, like a more drastic form of going on strike. Citizens could tell the government, workers could tell employers, kids could tell parents and schools: meet our demands or we'll check out. Now, maybe meeting the demands would just move the pain somewhere else. But we would all quickly stop arguing about stupid symbolic measures of quality of life, and start looking hard at subjective happiness.

Yes, I'm being glib about death. I have a strong feeling that death is better than a bad life, and I think this world has gone all the way to the other extreme, making death so forbidden, and making life so painful for so many people, that it's almost like a big torture prison. Only in this bizarre local anomaly could we entertain the philosophy that nonexistence is generally better than existence.

My favorite argument against suicide is that certain moments are worth staying for. From a reddit thread last year:

A sunny spring day, and the rain clouds were moving in. I went past a daycare where a little girl was dancing around, away from all the kids, by herself. You just never know, I thought to myself. What if I had killed myself, all that long time ago.