It bugs me a lot that I generally cannot answer the question “Why am I even here?” Last week’s series of posts was me taking another stab at that question, which – I know – has been bugging people since people became people. There’s been no shortage of times that I’ve wanted to just ragequit the entire thing. Part of the problem is that I don’t want to be evil.
What I want to do is write fiction. I come from a working-class family, and it was pretty well hammered into me that fiction is a waste of time. It doesn’t create anything of value, it simply steals the time you could be using to make your life better. It is wireheading. I’ve spent my whole life feeling guilty about reading fiction, watching fiction, or playing video games, and 20+ years feeling even more guilty about wanting to make it. I’ve always felt like a drug-pusher. I want to create a destructive thing that makes people feel good temporarily at the cost of their own well-being.
The subverting of this guilt is perhaps the thing I like most about Rationalist fiction. The stated purpose of HPMoR (and supposedly all Rationalist fiction) is to teach the reader how to better apply Rationalism in their own life. This is a thing I think will make all of humanity better. It was like a huge carbon-offset for fiction. It’s not a drug that hurts the reader, it’s a tool that makes them better, so it’s OK!
But when I actually read Rationalist fiction, what I like most isn’t that which teaches the best, it is that which makes me feel emotions the best. (Although the teaching is a huge bonus.) And when I write, while I incorporate themes of the Rationalist movement, I don’t actually set out to try to teach something. I’m just trying to make people feel emotions. Which means that at best I’m a drug pusher that says “Using my drug correlates with decreased heart-disease!” when I damn well know my intention is to get people high.
Unless, of course, feeling emotions is the raison d’etre of humanity. In which case maybe what I’m doing isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s even something valuable, in its own way.
I would like to think that. So I’m gonna try thinking that for a while, and see how that works out.