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Hack yourself
January 2, 2005 1:55 PM   Subscribe

"You can be happy. You can live the life you want to live. You can become the person you want to be. This is what I've figured out so far."
posted by iffley (57 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've heard it all before - but this is a succint, well-put version and it never hurts to hear it again.
posted by orange swan at 2:02 PM on January 2, 2005


I probably need to read some stuff like this, but I'm not really sure this makes a good FPP as a solo link.
posted by Ryvar at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2005


And you open the door and you step inside. Imagine your pain as a white ball of healing light...
posted by pieoverdone at 2:16 PM on January 2, 2005


Hmm. I'd be more interested in hearing his personal experience with why he decided to distribute this rant. Anyone have more info on this or how it came to be? His blog is dead, didn't see much else on the site.

Without a personal backstory, it just sounds like the worst parts of Fight Club used as the vocal track on a Buddhist/Scientologist/Objectivist mash-up.

(On preview: wow, jinx, pieoverdone. Heh.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 2:16 PM on January 2, 2005


Forget about it. Let it go. The past isn't real.

and the book says 'we may be done with the past, but the past ain't done with us'.
posted by brevator at 2:24 PM on January 2, 2005


Bbut what the hell is a " rant " anyway ? I could use some distinction as my trashman (sorry, ecological operator) is on vacation.
posted by elpapacito at 2:27 PM on January 2, 2005


It may sound empowering, but I think it's wishful thinking to say we can put our past aside like some plodding novel we're done reading. "The child is father to the man", and all that, but it also applies to cultural memory (Just look at German Vergangenheitsbewältigung, "coming to terms with the past") , maybe even genetic memory.
posted by ori at 2:33 PM on January 2, 2005


Some of it just sounds like Flylady. She starts with the sink too.
posted by konolia at 2:43 PM on January 2, 2005


The advice reminds me of the solution for chronic procrastinators: "Just Do It" In one sense, the obvious solution and yet not really helpful at all.

The tone of this little article reminds me of those distant friends of mine who went off to stuff like Landmark Education so that someone else can tell them that the albatross around their neck is a figment of their own imagination. I'm sure this was a revelation to them but they miss the fact that different people live their lives with varying degrees of self-knowledge and self-examination.
posted by vacapinta at 2:48 PM on January 2, 2005


Most of this stuff is extremely generic sounding. Today is the first day of your life blah blah blah..., been there done that.

I much prefer essays on idleness myself.
posted by bobo123 at 2:54 PM on January 2, 2005


a lot of people don't follow this advice ... and as long as that's true, things like this need to be said ... i like it
posted by pyramid termite at 2:57 PM on January 2, 2005


This is very boring and unhelpful.

Like RJ Reynolds, I want to know the backstory and experiences and suffering that produced the rant. The rant in itself is pretty trite.

Putting aside the past is easy. As usual, Nietzsche said it best.
posted by nixerman at 2:59 PM on January 2, 2005


Hey! They left the "But trust me on the sunscreen" bit off the end!

Like RJ Reynolds, I want to know the backstory and experiences and suffering that produced the rant.


Hmmm. If it's as boring as the writing it produced... I'll pass.
posted by flashboy at 3:07 PM on January 2, 2005


konolia wins, I think.

Those of us who grew up in the 70s probably remember the tiresome and ubiquitous Desiderata posters that adorned lots of kitchens, dorm rooms, guidance counselors' offices, etc.

As vacapinta suggests, this kind of thing tends to veer from the Extraordinarily Vague to the Blindingly Obvious in seasickening lurches.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:09 PM on January 2, 2005


The past is a memory. The future an expectation. neither
past or future actually exist.There is simply continuos now.
The past can affect us but only we can affect the future.
The point of power is in the present moment,so take responsibility for your intentions,your intentions go before
you and create at least part of the present moment.
Breathe and smile. don't forget to floss
posted by hortense at 3:11 PM on January 2, 2005 [1 favorite]


Jeebus Cripes.
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:13 PM on January 2, 2005


Those of us who grew up in the 70s probably remember...

It hasn't always been a happy childhood, but it's sure been a long one...! I remember Desiderata, of course, but I loved National Lampoon's "Deteriorata".

In particular, these words have stayed with me..."Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet."
posted by 327.ca at 3:14 PM on January 2, 2005


Cripes, nj_subgenius!
posted by 327.ca at 3:14 PM on January 2, 2005


Putting aside your past is a nice idea, but unless you have access to the type of mind wipe available in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it ain't gonna happen folks.

You are the person you are because your past has shaped you into this person. Sure, you can change the way you presently behave, but you can't put aside all of the influence of your past.
posted by kamylyon at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2005


sorry duder
posted by nj_subgenius at 3:16 PM on January 2, 2005


Thanks, 327.ca! I had a vague memory of that, and it made me laugh hard.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:18 PM on January 2, 2005


i think the most irritating thing is the author's assumption that their essay will be forwarded around for decades.

besides, my life doesn't suck.
posted by glenwood at 3:22 PM on January 2, 2005


Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

posted by First Post at 3:26 PM on January 2, 2005


Hey! Stuart Smalley got himself a blog!
posted by sourwookie at 3:46 PM on January 2, 2005


It does sort of read like 'Buddhism for Beginners', but there does seem to be some sanguine wisdom tucked in there.
One view could be that the more you protest that you can't leave the past behind, the more you need to follow this writer's maxim.
posted by apocalypse miaow at 3:46 PM on January 2, 2005


At first I was sorely tempted to ridicule this piece. Upon finishing it, though, I found it well written and fairly useful.

Since we're spouting cliches, I'll add one from "The Matrix": There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

Easy to read the article, but the trick is to follow it.
posted by bshock at 3:46 PM on January 2, 2005


"The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past."
--William Faulkner
posted by availablelight at 3:47 PM on January 2, 2005


I am far from a violent person, but reading stuff like that always makes me want to beat the shit out of the person who wrote it. I only want advice from:

a] people I know; and
b] when I specifically ask for it.

"Hack Yourself" rivals Waking Life at presenting unsupportable amalgamations of philosophomoronic unstatements. I bet it reads great if you're high. On second thought, Nike presented a much simpler version of this thing years ago: "Just Do It".

*deep breath* I feel better now
posted by sciurus at 3:51 PM on January 2, 2005


oh, pshaw.

wallowing in misery and consuming massive amounts of alcohol and junkfood is much easier and more pleasant.
posted by jonmc at 3:52 PM on January 2, 2005


Follow those who seek truth, avoid those who claim to possess it.

That's my favorite cliche lately.
posted by elwoodwiles at 4:36 PM on January 2, 2005


to paraphrase a brilliant review of "what the bleep do we know?":

I created my own reality and stopped reading halfway through.
posted by victors at 5:28 PM on January 2, 2005


This is a glass half filled with water. If you're thirsty, you'll drink it. If you're not thirsty, it's just one more dish to wash. Your response to this "rant" will say a lot about who you are.
posted by boymilo at 5:47 PM on January 2, 2005


That's right, boymilo. I'm an overeducated, cynical, snarkmistress who hates anything that smacks of pop philosophy, half-understood Zen koans, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Of course, I didn't have to read about this gentleman's wonderful journey of self-discovery to find that out. It's on my "care" label.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:04 PM on January 2, 2005


That was how the e-mail started. I wrote this in a burst of frustration and lucidity and mailed it out to everyone I know.

I feel sorry for this guy's friends. What a schmuck.
posted by xmutex at 6:15 PM on January 2, 2005


You can be happy.

sure
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on January 2, 2005


This dude is totally copying my thoughts. I blame him for ripping me off.
posted by Eideteker at 6:31 PM on January 2, 2005


Well, to add some more balance: I thought it was pretty good. Not all true. I think different parts could be true for different people. In general, it's not for everybody. Nobody forces anyone to read it, though. It is helpful for some. Therefore it has value, right?

Read what you choose to, parse and interpret it how you choose to, and keep the parts that are valuable to you, discarding the rest.
posted by whatnotever at 7:01 PM on January 2, 2005


god. I couldn't even bear to read most of that. I skimmed. crapola. Definitely reminds me of landmark et al. There is something especially annoying when people who spout trite cliches think they've done something deep.

also, I was bothered by his complete misuse of the word "rant".

elwoodwiles, that's a good one, & I fully agree.
posted by mdn at 7:55 PM on January 2, 2005


Is it possible that some people are going to exist in such a way that they will look back on things they've done and think about them and dwell on them, and some people will decide that thinking of the past is pointless, and neither group is at all better off?

That said I really had a bad response to this.

I can say that I know that feeling miserable is....not fun, and it seems to me self-help things like this prey on people who are already feeling down.

I'd say that a self-oriented view, whether looking at the past obsessively, or self-improvement in the present/future both seem pretty hopeless. I think the best way to deal with feeling bad about yourself is to stop paying so much attention to yourself and start thinking more about the people around you. But maybe reading me say that is making the next guy's stomach start churning.
posted by SomeOneElse at 7:55 PM on January 2, 2005


Wow. Tough room.

*waves* Hi there -- I wrote "Hack Yourself." Bet you didn't know I was on MeFi, did you? (sciurus, xmutex -- you two are totally off my Christmas card list.)

If it all seems unoriginal and trite to you, then sure, that's a fair cop. There's nothing new in it, and there's not meant to be. It's a distillation of old and important ideas from a variety of sources, remixed and boiled down. Like Andre Gide put it: "Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again."

RJ Reynolds: I'd be more interested in hearing his personal experience with why he decided to distribute this rant.

Oh, good heavens -- no, you wouldn't. It's not interesting. (Also, that only leads to the "my pain is bigger than yours" game, which is also not terribly interesting.) Let me just say that I managed to stop hating myself, and then looked around and saw that too many people I loved were making the same mistakes I was working to correct, so I wanted to show my notes.

ori: [...] I think it's wishful thinking to say we can put our past aside like some plodding novel we're done reading.

Certainly. But -- to continue that analogy -- I see way too many people dragging the same old novel around with them wherever they go and reading it over and over again, when there are newer, better novels they might like to read instead. I never said not to think about your past -- just don't dwell on it, especially not to the point of paralysis.
posted by webmutant at 8:08 PM on January 2, 2005


webmutant: I liked it. I'd heard most of it before too, but I agree with orange swan, pyramid termite and bshock - we hear stuff like this all the time, but it often needs to be repeated at the right moment before it makes a difference. Most of the people who read this probably brushed it off, but somewhere in the ether you might just have reached one person to whom it made an actual difference, and if you did, it was more than worth writing it.

Still, considering the attitudes some MeFites appear to have toward the promotion of self-improvement, I think you got off easy here - you could have gotten compared to fascists, Stalinists and the KKK. After all, they write affirming, positive messages too!
posted by ramakrishna at 8:47 PM on January 2, 2005


This thread reminded me of a rerun of West Wing I saw recently, called The Red Mass. Tried recreating the whole scene here but it got long and I feared my point would get lost, so I had to summarize it to the following paragraph, and no the irony of that is not lost on me.

In the West Wing episode Red Mass, Josh asked Donna to do research on a motivational speaker who coached one of Bartlett's competitors for re-election. When Donna returns, Josh notes that most of what the speaker preaches to his motivated masses are paraphrases of great thinkers and poets like Immanuel Kant and Robert Frost; only the speaker's distillation loses much of the original points of the great thinkers, and threatens to weaken the education of those who think all they need to better themselves is a few poorly educated words from a political advisor.

I can't remember the whole scene by heart, and you can't find decent transcripts of West Wing on the Internet probably due to copyright laws, but the point is, as well meaning as one may be, you can't just say platitudes and expect it to change people's lives; at least change them for the better. In fact, if not properly trained and well versed in philosophy, one can do more harm than good. At the very least, you stand on the shoulders of giants and pass off worn out platitudes as snake oil. Be you a scientologist or a televangelist, or somewhere between those extremes, you leave a bad taste in people's mouths.

It's one thing to summarize a scene in a television series. It's quite another to summarize entire Schools of Thought into a spammed email or a strangely formatted webpage.

No offense meant here WebMutant, but you're getting off easy. As a MeFi regular, you should know by now that yes: This is a 'tough room.' Personally I think so far you've gotten the kid gloves. Coulda been a lot worse for ya. You may mean well, but if you're serious about being a self-help guru? Try coming up with something that hasn't probably already been used by Tony Robbins. If you're not serious? Quit now while you're ahead. Oh, and spamming anything at friends, no matter how well intended, could and should cause you to lose said friends.

I have once walked on hot coals, at Tony Robbins' urgings. Didn't do me a bit a good.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:03 PM on January 2, 2005


Too thin as a solo fpp, methinks.
posted by sfslim at 9:11 PM on January 2, 2005


Though truly, WebMutant's clearly taken his own advice fairly well, as we roll right off his ducky back. Kudos, sir.

In any event, I know I just learn or absorb better from people talking about their actual experience. Like, you know: oh, wow, and then when you were giving head for smack you suddenly had some epiphany? Oh, cool! That sorta thing. I need a little narrative meat (as it were) with my philosophy. This is probably because I was raised in the suburbs by a television.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:14 PM on January 2, 2005


yeah, i find myself watching joan of arcadia whenever it's on for some reason.

maybe cuz it's written in the 2nd person?

i like the principles of the american cargo cult :D the heart of understanding!
posted by kliuless at 9:42 PM on January 2, 2005


MDN: bingo on the observation that this sounds like a bunch of recycled Landmark crap. But look at it this way: at least it saves everyone who reads it the trouble and expense of sitting through all those seminars ...
posted by contraposto at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2005


Metafilter: this kind of thing tends to veer from the Extraordinarily Vague to the Blindingly Obvious.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:53 PM on January 2, 2005


webmutant does get many points from me for not freaking out at people's less-than-enthusiastic reception of his brainchild. Classy.

You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil
when you are not good.

You are only loitering and sluggard.

Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the
turtles.

In your longing for your giant self lies your
goodness: and that longing is in all of you.


Kahlil Gibran, man.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:56 PM on January 2, 2005


Like Andre Gide put it: "Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again."

you're not gonna get people listening by boiling down and reheating though. No one will be awakened from a 'dogmatic slumber' by catch phrases. The people who will like this are the people already inclined toward the underlying belief, or those ready to read their own recent thoughts into your words - it can work as reinforcement. But the tricky part of saying something meaningful is that you have to find a new way of saying something that will hit a nerve, open a window, somehow allow for a new perspective. Yeah, philosophy in general is largely repeating what we already knew - but you have to find a way to make it new again if you really want to get someone thinking.

& what zachsmind said.
posted by mdn at 10:26 PM on January 2, 2005


Since we're spouting cliches, I'll add one from "The Matrix": There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

Easy to read the article, but the trick is to follow it.


Exactly bshock.

If you only read the advice, it's useless and trite-sounding.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:48 AM on January 3, 2005


However, if you follow the advice, you're a mental flower child with delusions of serenity. You can get information just as useful or useless or banal from a tarot reading.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:15 AM on January 3, 2005


Good reading. Thanks, Zach.
posted by Grangousier at 10:04 AM on January 3, 2005


However, if you follow the advice, you're a mental flower child with delusions of serenity.

Good reason not to follow the advice.

eh???
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:06 AM on January 3, 2005


Is Landmark Education/Landmark Forum often referred to simply as "The Forum"? I had a couple of friends go through such a beastie about 15 years ago, and while they claimed it changed their lives (something about coming to terms with their parents, apparently), it sounded vaguely cultish. I've always wondered where I could find more info about it....
posted by kimota at 10:39 AM on January 3, 2005


Yes, kimota, that's the one.
I try to be tolerant about these things, but I have to say it is never a good sign to me if someone finds landmark forum to have had a positive effect on their lives. I think the big problem is exactly what elwoodwiles addressed, that is, when people tell you they've got it figured out, you can basically be sure they're full of shit...

I don't doubt that people who need some kind of stability can make use of things like tony robbins or scientology or landmark etc, but it's not a good indication of their core identity and strength of character.
posted by mdn at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2005


I liked it, Mr Webmutant. It may not be original, and the Buddha might have said it all before 2,500 years ago, but in life, as in comedy, Timing Is Everything. Right here, right now, it did me some good. I'm off to do the dishes.
posted by Sparx at 12:03 PM on January 3, 2005


I thought it sucked bad but since it is now a thing of the past I won't dwell on it.
posted by mr.marx at 12:34 PM on January 3, 2005


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