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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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Chris OConnor

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
Ch. 1: Don’t Try


Please use this thread to discuss the above-referenced chapter of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
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Taylor

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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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I’ve not had any desire to read this book though-it has been on bookshelves for some years. (don’t know how long).
A thought that I have been trying to avoid for some number of years is-“I Don’t Give A Fuck” or “Not Giving a Fuck”
I have directly, since about my 50th birthday really been about trying to genuinely care about everything (sometimes to my detriment). It has been something that I have concentrated on.
Concern sometimes comes with consequences chiefly, misanthropy- a disregard for your own species.
There is a quote from the book “The Monk” by Matthew G. Lewis.
“ Man was born for society. How ever little he may be attached to the world, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to be wholly forgotten by it. Disgusted at the guilt or absurdity of Mankind, the misanthrope flies from it: He resolves to become a Hermit, and buries himself in the cavern of some gloomy rock.
While hate inflames his bosom, possibly He may feel contented with his situation: but when his passions begin to cool; when time has mellowed his sorrows, and healed those wounds which he bore with him in solitude, think you that content becomes his companion? Ah! no, No longer sustained by the violence of his passions, He feels all the monotony of his way of living, and his heart becomes the prey of ennui and weariness.
He looks round and finds himself alone in the universe: the love of society revives in his bosom and he pants to return to that world has abandoned.
Nature looses her charms in his eyes: No one is near him to point out all her beauties or share in his admiration of her excellence and variety. Propped upon the fragment of some rock, he gazes upon the tumbling waterfall with a vacant eye, He views without emotion the glory of the setting Sun. Slowly he returns to his cell at evening, for no one there is anxious for his arrival; He throws himself upon his couch of moss despondent and dissatisfied, and wakes only to pass a day as joyless and monotonous as the former “
I read “The Monk “ thought deeply about the above quote and discovered that “ Not Giving a Fuck” is as horrible as a person can get.
I do not think that there are subtleties when it comes to that not giving a fuck thing. That there is hypocrisy within me there is no doubt, I contend that it certainly exists in all my fellow species.
The simple fact is that there is no single thing/idea that could Devine humanity for humanity’s sake.
Not giving a fuck is Machiavellian. It surmises that the individuals pain or loss is much less than the necessary loss or pain/injury that the other must incorporate for the “Me”
To succeed; what ever that non-giving a fuck person should desire.
The Monk is eventually shredded, flesh from bones. Piece by piece he experiences all his sins removed from his body as his body is torn into fragments.
The book that’s been presented for discussion fragments society by placing the individual above/against the other.
There should be consideration for the group( humanity) over and above the individual or loosely linked individuals.
Evolution is a wonderful fact, it is the prime driver. Humanity is counter intuitive as it should be.
The art of the humane: what a beautiful thing. Life in the aesthetic is/should be the prime driver! We have at least evolved, or at last evolved to accept our own demise.
From there we should Devine a way for all humanity.
Better to witness the extinction of “Fuck You, I Got Mine” than “Look at the Fucking Good We Did”.
I love that word “Fuck”; Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck!. It’s cathartic! But at some point- as a way of life- well- It just doesn’t cover it.

Edited for clarity/spelling
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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But when you stop and really think about it, conventional life advice - all the positive and happy self-help stuff we hear all the time - is actually fixating on what you lack. It lasers in on what you perceive your personal shortcomings and failures to already be, and then emphasizes them for you. You learn about the best ways to make money because you feel you don't have enough money already. You stand in front of the mirror and repeat affirmations saying that you're beautiful because you feel as though you're not beautiful already. You follow dating and relationship advice because you feel that you're unlovable already. You try goofy visualization exercises about being more successful because you feel as though you aren't successful enough already.

Ironically, this fixation on the positive - on what's better, what's superior - only serves to remind us over and over again of what we are not, of what we lack, of what we should have been but failed to be. After all, no truly happy person feels the need to stand in front of a mirror and recite that she's happy. She just is.

There's a saying in Texas: "The smallest dog barks the loudest." A confident man doesn't feel a need to prove that he's confident. A rich woman doesn't feel a need to convince anybody that she's rich. Either you are or you are not. And if you're dreaming of something all the time, then you're reinforcing the same unconscious reality over and over: that you are not that.

pgs 4 - 5 Italics in original
Wow... Certain ways of giving a fuck actually increase personal pain. Although that seems obviously true, never thought of it that way before... Perhaps we're about to learn a new way to reduce pain...
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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“Wow... Certain ways of giving a fuck actually increase personal pain. Although that seems obviously true, never thought of it that way before... Perhaps we're about to learn a new way to reduce pain...” (Landroid”)
And what exactly are these people giving a fuck about?. I’ll write it: ( Apparently they’re giving of fucks, is exclusively about their personal fucking gain).

I will not pretend that: it’s all about me—“ fuckin aye man “ or it’s in any way shape or form altruistic—“ fuckin aye man “.
Fuck me a runnin. Catch me if you can.
No—
The word Fuck is aggressive by nature. The title of this book is aggressive by nature.
The mere title of the book demonstrates pseudo intellectualism. I doubt seriously that it has for years even registered on the now dying intellectual dark web. I mean is this prehistoric crap even being held up by that weirdo Jordan Peterson? . Even Haidt, Harris and Pinker couldn’t maintain their hegemony in the sociological debate.
Who else fails here?,
This book is self help nonsense, pablum even.
Even Jared M. Diamond: ( author of “Guns, Germs and Steel”) failed to connect the feline…hominid conundrum.
Fuck it the author tells us.
John Lennon beautifully sang to us; “ All You Need Is Love”. that “ It Will Find A Way”.
If that’s not enough to reduce pain I’m sure “Big Pharma” for a price gives that Fuck.
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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Taylor, there is a serious chance that I'm in total agreement with you on this one. I've only now started the book, so I'm going to try to refrain from forming a solid opinion this early into it. I watched some videos on YouTube, and I did listen to the author, Mark Manson, saying that he uses the word fuck a lot, for shock purposes. The book isn't supposed to really be about "not giving a fuck," but about learning to give a fuck about the right things. It's about prioritizing what matters in your life, and I'm sure you can agree with that. But I haven't gotten into the book enough to know if it's pseudo-intellectualism or not. I don't want to discourage anyone from reading the book or participating in this discussion, but I am starting this with some reservations.
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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I'm having trouble following where Taylor is going with this commentary except that he seems to be judging this book by its title.
Everyone and their TV commercial wants you to believe that the key to a good life is a nicer job, or a more rugged car, or a prettier girlfriend, or a hot tub with an inflatable pool for the kids. The world is constantly telling you that the path to a better life is more, more, more - buy more, own more, make more, fuck more, be more. You are constantly bombarded with messages to give a fuck about everything, all the time. Give a fuck about a new TV. Give a fuck about having a better vacation than your coworkers. Give a fuck about buying that new lawn ornament. Give a fuck about having the right kind of selfie stick.

...the problem is that giving too many fucks is bad for your mental health. It causes you to become overly attached to the superficial and fake, to dedicate your life to chasing a mirage of happiness and satisfaction. The key to a good life is not giving a fuck about more; it's giving a fuck about less, giving a fuck about only what is true and immediate and important.
p. 5
Perhaps that clears up a bit about where this book is going... Consider the subtitle: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Anyone else want to tackle what's coming up next in this first chapter?
The Feedback Loop from Hell
Subtlety # 1
Subtlety # 2
Subtlety # 3
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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I find that in thinking about whether to join a Booktalk discussion, I sometimes need to have a look at the book first. Knowing that our local suicide prevention charity Lifeline had its regular six-monthly mega book fair last weekend, and knowing that this book would be for sale there, led me to slightly delay my decision. And of course, since this is a gaudy airport book with an enticing title, I was absolutely correct in my prophecy, and found six copies neatly in a row. Strangely, none of them had prices. I always buy a bilum-full of books at the fair, so have far more than I can possibly read – philosophy, history, theology, psychology. When I got to the counter, he charged me $47, but when I checked the prices added up to $65, so I got this one and a few others for free.

This book is about focus and priorities as a basis to achieve a Buddhist state of enlightenment through overcoming the suffering that we get from attachment to material things. This spiritual goal of detachment enables us to reflect on what is really important in life.

The first chapter rather irritated me, and overall I thought it was the worst in the book. The theme of accepting failure seemed to me quite wrong, since the world can become a far better place when people value excellence and reject mediocrity. Success is not just a matter of personal aggrandisement, as Manson seems to imply, but reflects achievement in the world, generally in ways that make life better for many people.

Obviously Manson is correct that dreams of success are often dashed, but that is no reason at all not to care about doing your best. His suggestion that we learn about how to succeed because we feel like a failure is superficial. I found his arguments about why we want to succeed confusing. For example on page 4 he says “fixation on the positive only serves to remind us of what we have failed to be.” That is just rubbish. Fixation on the positive also serves to imagine what we can become, which is the opposite of dwelling on failure.

I am not sure why he opens with such a weak argument when he goes on in following chapters to provide far more coherent advice, but I was glad to persevere as overall this is an excellent and helpful book.
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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Coming back for a second comment.

Too often, “counterintuitive”, the word in the subtitle of this book, is a euphemism for wrong and stupid. That certainly seems the case with the ill-conceived opening example, the bum author Charles Bukowski, with his Yodaesqe epitaph on his gravestone ‘Don’t Try’. That is really bad advice. Trying is a good thing. What is going on here?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bukowski says Time called Bukowski a "laureate of American lowlife". It is clear that Mark Manson opens with this degenerate failure as a signal to pop trash, trying to suck in readers who are willing to engage with mass culture but have no taste for academic philosophy. Falsely claiming to be a bastard, Bukowski was ugly, ridiculed and abused, a drunkard who was rejected for the draft in WW2.

I have the feeling that Manson uses the inverted values of this no-hoper just as a way to introduce the idea that things are not always as they seem, even though Bukowski has few redeeming features other than the highly dubious achievement of inspiring pop junk culture. Manson seems to be saying who do you think you are, looking down on Bukowski?

Bukowski's celebration of nihilistic narcissism is a completely indifferent attitude of not caring about anything other than the next drink, reminiscent of the vacuous depravity of pulp fiction. Manson’s ambition seems to be to be the Quentin Tarantino of Buddhist mysticism, a deeply contradictory and disturbed combination that most would regard as absurd and confused. But given Tarantino’s ability to reach a mass audience, this is a combination of opposites that is worth hearing out. The first step in providing therapy for a highly traumatised culture is often to gain some trust by identifying with the values of the culture.

Okay, Bukowski is redeemed by what Manson calls “complete unflinching honesty in sharing his failings without hesitation or doubt.” This willingness not to hide behind a false veneer of invulnerability means others can identify with Bukowski as one who voices what they themselves would never dare to say. This paradoxical success of failure is even something with a Christian ring, given the central virtues of Christ according to Isaiah were that he would be despised and rejected. Considering Bob Dylan’s correct observation that failure’s no success at all, Manson’s exploration of how failure can in fact be a form of success has a sort of Zen beauty to it. I still don’t buy it, but some suspension of disbelief is worth a cautionary try.

The result of all this is Manson’s argument that we should only care about what is “true and immediate and important.” I really am not sure how well Bukowski scores against those criteria, given his celebration of what is false and imaginary and useless. It seems Manson is swinging wildly from one extreme to the other, but wth, it is worth a read.

Here is a video where Bukowski advises to dye your shoes blue. That is bad advice. But there is worse.
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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I doubt I would have picked up on the Buddhist element given the "Right Speech" step on the Noble Eightfold Path. 🤣 I'll start looking for more now...
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Re: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck - Ch. 1: Don’t Try

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Manson attacks consumerism, observing that people wanting more stuff is good for business, but is bad for mental health, causing attachment to the superficial and fake (p5). This is an important observation of the delusional corruption of values that pervades mass culture.

It is superficial to think that the envy generated by conspicuous consumption will make you happier. It is fake to value appearance over reality. It is amazing that society allows blatant psychological manipulation of vulnerable people to encourage them to buy more of products and services that are clearly bad for them.

Instinctive envy of rich people seems to create the mentality that prioritises the material over the spiritual. This is quite complicated. If we take the view that the main benefit of material possessions is to provide the physical security needed for spiritual pursuits, then things like having a nice house and car are only justified to the extent they remove distractions from higher goals. The problem is when we imagine that ownership of more things is an end in itself, rather than a means to a higher spiritual goal. It means that many people have completely lost the ability to comprehend that there could be eternal values – the good, the beautiful and the true.

This inability to live under the perspective of eternity – traditionally ‘sub specie aeternitatus’ – means that mass culture wrongly believes that things are good when in reality they are bad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub_specie_aeternitatis

So people get really confused when the assertion arises that they care about things that are meaningless and ignore things that are crucial. The Wikipedia article has some excellent uses – Wittgenstein held that the eye of eternity enables a wholistic mystical outlook. Spinoza wrote in his Ethics that Euclid’s axiomatic geometry provides the logic to explain moral philosophy. Aristotle held that life is widely infected by a decadence that refuses to take anything seriously. John Rawls contended that we need to see life from all temporal viewpoints. Carl Jung held that the eternal is expressed in myth.
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