When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.John Lennon
John Lennon didn’t understand life. To make one’s own emotional states the point of one’s existence is a terrible waste of a mind! Doing this is not only completely self-absorbed, it also demonstrates a profound lack of appreciation for the potential of what our minds can do.
It is perfectly possible to alter one’s emotional landscape at will just by tweaking a few concepts a bit. After you do this a few times, you should realize the following:
Happiness is infinite and limitless. You can make it happen anytime you want to. Because of this, happiness is also worthless. It’s just simply not an interesting use of a mind or a valuable life goal to have. For that matter, this goes for any and every emotional state.
If you have a mind dominated by feels, do you know what that means?
It means you haven’t started thinking yet.
Once you start thinking, emotions become background noise. Emotions are interdependent with concepts. Change your concepts, change your emotional landscape. It’s as simple as that. Emotions are just thoughts that haven’t been thunk yet.
Emotional fetishism is an extremely common mode of existence for commodified subjects to be living in. It’s in the damn US constitution – the right to the pursuit of happiness. That emotional states are somehow ‘deeper’ and ‘more real’ than other mental activities is a foundational assumption of the totalitarian pseudoscience of psychology. Emotional fetishizers are such narcissists that they think that their silly feelsquest is actually something that’s universally true for everyone!
It isn’t. Happiness is a contingent historical construct, and so is the happiness-seeking mode of existence. It was not always so, and it could be otherwise! Emotional fetishism is inherently idealist, and inherently nihilist.
Show me a happiness-seeker, and I will show you a zombie.
Emotional-fetishizing goes well with moralism – both psychology and the NuAge attribute moral significance to emotional events. Of course, these moral significances themselves are utterly meaningless contingent constructs. By using moral constructs to interpret emotional events, you are allowing your mind to be dominated by pre-given signifying structures, which is to say by your social conditioning.
The most useful theoretical terrains I’ve found to understand our minds are neuroscience and psychoanalysis. The former has a tendency to be bio-reductionist, and the latter can be a little too post-structuralist in its antipathy towards the natural sciences – so you need both!
Here I’ll just use some extremely simple neuroscience to illustrate: basically we’ve all got 3 brains – reptile, mammal, and human. The reptile brain (brainstem) is your survival instincts, mammal brain (limbic system) is emotions and memories, and your human brain (neocortex) is where the thinking be at.
Capital doesn’t want anybody to think! This system works much better when the people doing it don’t think. So, it tends to produce people who don’t use their neocortex all that much. Spiritualities and Religions encourage this too. Going through the Matrix is all about learning how to think for yourself – which is to say, fully activating your neocortex, humanizing and individuating all the way.
Emotional fetishists, far from being a universal norm, are just an adolescent stage of our possible maturation pathways.
You don’t have to be an emotional fetishist! I know, it was surprising for me too. It’s pretty easy to overcome emotional fetishism – just stop doing it. Find something else to do with your mind! There are so many interesting things a mind can do, and if all you’re focused on is feels you’ll never learn how to do anything else.
(Scientific conceptual apparati come with free emotional dampening too – given that they demystify and disenchant. Hooray for materialisms!).