“Getting to grips with hyperawareness, the progression of humanity towards new knowledge, and the very nature of reality. Easy stuff right?”
The book I’m about to review has been a long time coming for me. Despite it being released fairly recently, and this blog post going up fairly soon after my reading of it, it’s the culmination of a rather long chain of events.
At 13 years old I watched a video series entitled Eliminating Morality by a shock artist and philosopher known as Morgue. At the time I knew nothing about philosophy or situation ethics, but being a pretentious kid I thought I’d call him out on his callous dismissal of empathy anyway. Needless to say I’d completely misunderstood the point of the video and was being ridiculously pedantic, but here’s the thing:
Morgue responded. Told me to keep questioning things, congratulated me, and gently pointed out the difference between nihilism and existentialism. It impacted me hugely that despite my comparative ignorance I was spoken to like an adult, and it ignited within me a desire to push these alternative thought patterns further, to see where they could take me.
Next year I go on to a philosophy-based degree, and both my GCSE and A-Level choices incorporated ethics and religious studies as a gateway to this. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have got to where I am on my own, but I do know that Morgue quickened the process. I’ve always been somewhat critical of his theories, and it is precisely that I have to thank him for. Without such controversial material for me to grapple with I never would have learned how to think for myself.
Of course occasionally it comes across preachy, and it could be argued that his vehemence in the face of organised religion is excessive and doing more harm than good, but these are small stylistic points. They all seem to stem from a determination to inspire at any cost, to push people to break the patterns they can’t even see; you have to be pretty brash with an aim like that.
Academically as well the book seems to be logically sound, drawing on the works of many greats (Descartes, Nietzsche, McKenna, even Plato) and acting as a gateway to further study them all. The language itself is very attainable, deceivingly so, because the concepts introduced are anything but. This is a book that has to be read more than once, and may require a suspension of disbelief.
Case and point – I started reading as someone who self-identified as straight edge, and finished reading as someone who didn’t. This happened in part because the book opened my eyes as to the ways in which the media is biased against drug use, in part because I realised drugs could be used for means other than social (as a personal preference I’m still against social and party drugs), and most importantly because I was told to re-evaluate why I was subscribing to ideologies. Like religion and a dedication to scientific materialism, I was clinging to the sXe label because it validated my choices, and gave me a way to hide from the social anxiety I felt associated with drinking and drugs.
It was a tough love kind of moment. There are a lot of those.
The whole book guides one through the process of deconstruction. First pre-established ideologies that are constrictive and without proof have to go, then personal bias and then actual personality traits. All must be re-examined and most discarded in the quest for reason and truth. For someone with pre-existing mental illness, this process as Morgue describes it becomes even more brutal and exhausting.
The part of the book regarding phobias was the thing that I had the hardest time believing, but has proved to be the most valuable. I have suffered from extreme panic attacks for years, making even slightly social situations excruciating. I used to think the appropriate response was not to beat myself up over it, to make allowances and treat myself as a special case. I avoided the situations that triggered me and said I was doing it for my own good.
This approach was shattered. As exemplified through Morgue’s personal anecdotes, exposure is all that works. It is stated that many use a diagnosis as an excuse for weakness and to stagnate, and I had to admit that I was one of those individuals. I was forced to come to terms with the fact that if I wanted to fix my social anxiety it was simple – I had to be social. I had to destroy that fear by confronting it over and over until it lost its sting.
In addition, my unshakable teenage faith that art is the highest form of truth wavered. I’ve always hated mathematics for its rigid nature and lack of subjectivity, but ironically I’ve come to appreciate it for the same reasons. I’d shied away from it for so long thinking it was the opposite of philosophy, when in fact they go hand in hand. It’s much easier to rely on art and emotion because there’s no incorrect answer, but again this is the weak way out. You have to be brave enough to embrace pure logic, even if it seems dull and uninspiring. This was never meant to be easy.
There’s a reason Morgue’s book is not for everyone, and that is it. It’s a painful process and an exhausting one, and at the time of writing I’m not entirely sure how it will work out for me. Putting yourself under conditions that break you down in order to rebuild stronger is no easy feat, and though Morgue tries to offer ways in which to do it or reasons why it is worth it it’s an intensely personal decision. You may not be able to do what this book tells you to do, you may not be ready, you may not want to admit the temptation there is just to live comfortably in the fur of the great magician’s rabbit. You don’t realise the hold materialism and morality has on you until you are confronted with the opportunity to break it. You don’t realise how your conscious mind and survival instincts are at odds until you have to suffer to improve. You don’t realise how easy it would be to turn your back on hyperawareness if it means sitting in bed eating cake for a few more hours.
But for those with fight, curiosity or just pure stubbornness this book is invaluable. And though a lot of what it teaches I feel like I’ll have to wait until I’m older to comprehend, it is an excellent first look at the how to logically (rather than emotionally) oppose religion, science, weakness and mediocrity. I only hope that those of Morgue’s fan base who’s vocabulary seems to extend only to blind compliments can appreciate it.
I have a lot to thank this both this book and its author for, and as time passes the instruction this book gives will only become more useful. I feel like I’m closer to becoming that person that 13 year old me subconsciously wanted to be when they clicked that video, and I have never felt more empowered.