I chose to focus on the goodness and the kindness of those I talk to; and so far, I always, without any exceptions, found it. Sometimes it lives vividly in their sentences, exposing itself towards every listener; sometimes it is hiding in undusted and unseen corners of their words - but it is there, it always is. And I choose to focus on it.
—  Thoughts #123

Against Against: “In recent years, there has been an ‘Against [X]’ epidemic: against young-adult literature, against interpretation, against method, against theory, against epistemology, against happiness, against transparency, against ambience, against heterosexuality, against love, against exercise, et cetera. The form announces a polemic—probably a cranky one, and very likely an unfair one. But an essay with such a title has inoculated itself against the criticism of being too polemical or tendentious—after all, did you read the title? Caveat lector!”

For more of this morning’s roundup, click here.

Illustration: Daniel Zender.

Only a very few people can be independent: it is a prerogative of the strong. And when independence is attempted by someone who has the right to it, but does not need it, we have proof that this man is probably not only strong, but bold to the point of recklessness. He ventures into a labyrinth, he multiplies life’s inevitable dangers a thousandfold, and not the least among these is the absence of any person to see how and where he is going astray, becoming isolated, being rent apart piece by piece in the cave of some Minotaur of the conscience. Assuming that such a person perishes, he perishes so far away from the understanding of human beings that they do not feel it or feel it for him – and he cannot go back again! Not even to the pity of humans!
—  Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Thesis and Antithesis: Materialism and Dualism

Our thesis is materialism (or physicalism): roughly, the thesis that everything is fundamentally physical. Our antithesis is dualism: roughly, the thesis that not everything is fundamentally physical, and the things that are not fundamentally physical are fundamentally mental. Our synthesis is panpsychism: very roughly, the thesis that everything is (or at least that some things are) fundamentally physical and fundamentally mental.

More specifically, we will be concerned with materialism and dualism about consciousness. Materialism about consciousness is the thesis that consciousness is fundamentally physical: that is, that truths about consciousness are grounded in the fundamental truths of a completed physics. Dualism about consciousness is the thesis that consciousness is not fundamentally physical: that is, that truths about consciousness are not grounded in the fundamental truths of a completed physics.

..

(Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism1 

David J. Chalmers PDF)

Sometimes I shout it out unprovoked at the world and you,
Just to see if the people around me react.
Sometimes I think they’re all acting,
At times I’m scared that I’m acting too.
My movements or stage directions?
Was that a change in topic or a beat in the scene?
Have I been taking my emotional cues from a script I wrote at sixteen?

Maybe I just think about it all so much,
That the fear stays close to all the ghosts I’ve touched.
Makes me question was it love or just lust?
Caked in blood or old rust?
I don’t know.

Don’t we remember all the moments?
We remember the best those framed in poems and in pictures,
Sang aloud in refrains.
Does this cycle of pain and disdain for the past
Not work exactly the same?

Maybe it’s just as much about what comes our way,
As it is how we react.
Just as much about the things that we still got,
As it is about the things we lack.
I know, we won’t always keep around those we feel we need.
Some will fade into frames, some were born to leave.
But if we’re still here and we still breathe,
At least we’ve still got time to figure it out,
To know what to do,
To know how to feel,
To know the things that I’ve been making up inside my head,
And to know what’s real.
I wanna believe that the way I am is just the way it goes,
For the things that came, not the things I chose to come.
I wanna know if I had any control.
I wanna know if it’d comfort me.

And if my heart just stops, pack my memories in it;
I wanna know all the love I’ve got.
And if my heart just stops, keep me alive for a minute;
I wanna know if a curtain drops.

—  La Dispute, Why It Scares Me
Reality Check

Ignorance is not bliss. Self deception is perpetual stagnation.  Suffering should inspire initiative, rather than compulsions to distract oneself and recede into a void of illusions.  We can only change the circumstances that we are brave enough to acknowledge, to endure the crippling agony of disillusionment, and to utilize this pain as motivation to remain persistent in transcending oppressive circumstances.

Remove all outlets for convenient escapism.  Stop justifying submission, pretending that repression is your only option, and celebrating your self destruction.  Reject faith in tyrannical authority figures, in favor of cultivating personal will and the resulting authentic education.  Mourn the death of your wishful thinking.  Detox from denial.  Discipline yourself to persist against the fear based conditioning you’ve been subjected to.

Shed the dead skin of naivety and complacency, and accept the innate responsibility of enduring the tribulations that come with realizing your potential.  You are only a slave to the circumstances that you consent to.  You will transcend your depression, only when you can accept that you are your own oppression.

The Nature of Reality in Beacon Hills

Many much more experienced meta-writers have written theories regarding Beacon Hills and more specifically the Nemeton as existing on a leygate of sorts between life and death - the literal physical embodiment of Bardo. Here are my thoughts on how I think Jeff Davis has carefully incorporated an infusion of both Western and Oriental philosophical thoughts that make us question the entire fabric of reality in Teen Wolf. 

Even from “Anchors" it was obvious that the overarching theme of 3b would be the core character’s inability to differentiate between reality and fantasy. The aftereffects of their sacrificial ritual to the Nemeton left them with a "darkness in their hearts" that supposedly - and I say supposedly because I continue to doubt its repercussions to this present moment - affects them up until this point in the narrative. This has been explained canonically as the effects of Bardo - a liminal space in Buddhism that occupies the gap between life and death [x]. 

Kira: I couldn’t help overhearing what you guys were talking about. And I think I actually might know what you’re talking about. There’s a Tibetan word for it. It’s called “Bardo”. It literally means “in-between state.” The state between life and death. 

Anchors" 3x13

But in all thoroughness, the idea that reality and fantasy are not two separate spheres of existence and instead coexist in a demimonde of sorts begins with Lydia in season 2. She exposes the protean surface texture of reality in Beacon Hills. She demonstrates with clarity that life and death are as codependent and symbiotic as reality and fantasy. Although this could be argued to simply be the result of Peter’s bite, it proves that the dead - to a degree - have power to retrace that boundary and exert influence over the living. Hallucination!Peter himself remains conflicted regarding the nature of his being.

Lydia: Are you real?

Peter: Interestingly, that question can also be answered not yet.

Party Guessed" 2x9

What we see here is extended upon in Season 3b with the opening and closing scenes both being this lucid confusion of reality and illusion, which traditional bardo argues can correlate to life and death. Stiles and Derek both doubt the reality of the scene they are experiencing and so indirectly question the nature of their existence in the classic philosophical question: is this real?

This age-old question echoes back to several philosophical skepticisms that break down the foundation of what we believe to be the texture of reality. The aforementioned scenes recapitulate Descartes’ “Dream Argument” hypothesis in which he claims that reality is virtually indistinguishable from dream [x]. When this translates over to Buddhist scripture it becomes clear that what Descartes named “reality” and “dream” correspond to “life” and “death” according to Buddhist schools of thought. This further lays ground to Peter’s confusion about the state of his existence. 

Solpsism refers to the philosophical concept which also resonates with that philosophical line of reasoning [x]. It nullifies the empiricist argument that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience because it argues that one cannot validate any experience that exists outside one’s own consciousness because that is all one can be sure of [x]. This falls in line with Descartes’ “Evil Demon” theory [x] in which he argues that what we perceive may all be the illusory work of a malicious entity. Possession has been a frequent topic of discourse in many religions and societies but few claims have been made that reality according to the victim has been warped - as is the case with Stiles - whereas in most possessions, the victim retains full consciousness but instead exhibits a loss of bodily control. This is where I believe Jeff Davis drew his inspiration from for the manner in which the Nogitsune possessed Stiles - if you do follow that interpretation of the narrative. 

Lydia - the one who first truly presented us with the notion of a liquid relation between life and death / reality and illusion - was also the last to similarly question empiricism and constructivism [x]. Instead, she invokes yet another Buddhist school of thought called Dzogchen in which perceived reality is assumed to be unreal [x].

Lydia: The ashes weren’t ashes. The study isn’t a study. The record player isn’t a record payer. So..So maybe the wine isn’t wine. 

Monstrous" 4x10

So…So maybe what’s real isn’t real. This is a very good foundation for the audience to raise doubts as to exactly what have we been shown that we can ascertain is real. The Benefactor once exposed was believed to be Meredith, which was later proven to be a false revelation due to Peter’s comatose ravings. Stiles is believed to be human, but many examples which have been listed by far better meta writers than I have given good ground to doubt that claim. I wonder what else have we been led to assume true? The fandom has already raised doubts about Derek - or what we see to be Derek - and his existence. I suspect that much more is to be revealed in the following two episodes. 

I think it was calicokat-teenwolf who wrote something specifically on the question of reality in Beacon Hills and she probably did a much better job than I but I don’t recall seeing anyone mention these philosophical concepts before. So I thought I’d shine a light as to how I not only think the characters themselves perceive reality but how we, as an audience, are also meant to. 

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