What will probably come as a shock to some of my friends and family is that I recently read a book. For pleasure.
I’m obviously one to fight for other forms of escape and entertainment (I mean, have you looked at the rest of this blog recently?), but as an attempt to “grow” and “try new things,” one of my New Year resolutions that has surprisingly stuck is taking a chance on reading.
Rather than asking friends for recommendations on what to pick up first, I went to the *~internet~* and found the bestsellers for non-fiction in 2019 and did the thing you’re not supposed to do and chose a book based on its cover. Or really title, technically.
This is the same guy who also wrote a super successful, neat book under a similar title, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck. As you’ve probably noticed, this man appreciates language with…feeling. While I had never heard of his first bestseller–or Manson for that matter–diving into this second masterpiece has me putting any of his books in my Amazon cart.
Everything is F*cked drew my attention for the same reason why it probably drew in others: we wanted answers.
Our world can feel like a giant sigh at times. The current administration is…well, the current administration, we all spend too much time on our phones that didn’t even exist 10 years ago, economic inequality is the highest its been in 50 years, people don’t trust one another and refuse to acknowledge opposing perspectives or even facts, countries are war-torn, social justice feels like it has regressed, we’ve depleted most of our natural resources…need I go on? The point is, there’s a lot anyone could be upset about right now no matter who you are. There’s a lot of anger, sadness, and just an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness at times.
Seeing the title of this book, I thought I’d love to see how this guy thinks we aren’t completely f*cked. I thought he would try to make me see the brighter side of things, or that if given the right perspective, I could see we weren’t as screwed as I thought we were.
Well, he didn’t do that.
This book is like if my Media Ethics class from sophomore year had a child with PSYCH 101 and a historical fanfiction novel. Combining the teachings of philosophers and innovators like Plato, Kant, Newton, and Nietzsche, Manson breaks down how we got to think it’s the end of the world as we know it at any given moment, but unlike REM, we are definitely not feeling fine.
Touching on topics ranging from child development to the formation of religions and the value of knowing pain, much of Manson’s theses rely on the basis of all humans having two sides to the brain: the Thinking Brain and the Feeling Brain.
Our Thinking Brain is our rational consciousness. It’s what makes us not put our hand on a burning stove, compute a waiters tip, and take the quickest route to the supermarket. Our Feeling Brain, on the other hand, is at times an unpredictable fellow. It creates emotional attachments, impulses, and is the very basis of our self control.
As much as we want to say we are cool-headed and unphased by our inherent biases in decision making, we aren’t. Our feelings are the most powerful force behind any action we make, no matter how many facts are shoved in our face. We know we should be better, but we simply don’t feel like it. And if we don’t feel like it, we won’t. And if we don’t…things can get a little dicey.
Without giving too much away, this book has made me question why and how I believe what I believe in the most confrontational way, and I am grateful for it. That being said, this read requires its takers to be open in the mind and heart. If you are devoted to any spiritual or political religion, you might get angry. If you are an ambitious, self-starter, you might find yourself gobsmacked. If you just wish things would go back to the way things were–in any sense–you’re going to be disappointed.
This book challenges the idea of searching for something better–the essence of hope. Hope has propelled us as a human race. It has impacted innovation, science, politics, all the things. But it has also impacted the human psyche in ways that it can cloud how we see the world and how we take it for what it is.
A lesson in this approach falls under the expression amor fati (love of one’s fate) as applied by Nietzsche. It’s an idea that says to accept everything that has happened–good, bad, life-changing, or boring–and to embrace it with enthusiasm.
It’s a love of reality, an unconditional one. While this theory appears to be complacent in one’s outcomes, it’s goal is to teach a form of gratitude that stretches beyond hope. In a world where we have begun to treat each other and ourselves as means rather than ends, it’s aim is for us to not demand things to be better simply because we think it’s owed to us, but rather learn and experience the patience of pain. It’s a hope that through the thick, we don’t become “better,” but rather more profound.
Take that and apply it to your own world view any way you want.
After finishing the book, it’s taken me a few days to really “sum up” what all I took away from this. I found out there really are children dressed as adults among us and our society lacks maturity. I see that hope for a better life is not necessarily feasible. You have to BE a better life.
I realize that as a straight, white female I may be able to embrace this notion easier than others. The only major critique I have of Manson’s work is his application of this theory to all peoples of various backgrounds and circumstances. I’m not sure how telling those who have suffered any discrimination in their life for something they cannot change “to simply be better,” plays out. I may have to give it a second read.
Go read this book if you want to feed your brain some yummy food.
Go read this book if you want to challenge yourself.
Go read this book if you don’t want to challenge yourself.
Just go read it because it’s really f*cking good.
“The pursuit of happiness is a toxic value that has long defined our culture. It is self-defeating and misleading. Living well does not mean avoiding suffering; it means suffering for the right reasons. Because if we’re going to be forced to suffer by simply existing, we might as well learn how to suffer well”