The Value of Life Is Immanent, Jamming, 19/07/2014

When couples who don’t have children hang out with couples who do have children, there are occasionally those awkward moments when the children-havers ask why, and they are rarely satisfied with the answer that we just don’t want any. I anticipate these questions will arise fairly frequently over the course of my life, because my girlfriend and I don’t want kids.

I’m a writer, philosophical journalist, playwright, and whatever other creative endeavours will give me a paycheck of some kind. I don’t need children. My artworks will be my children — unlike children, art can never disappoint its creator.

Because an important element of environmental politics is a goal for an overall reduction in the human population by peaceful means, it’s important to encourage more people to decide not to have children. To do that, people have to live in such a way that they don’t need children to be happy in life. Yet an important concept in the image of reproduction as the validation of one’s present existence is in creating a heritage for the future. 

Well, to answer those concerns in this particular case, as an artist and creative figure, my artworks are that heritage. When my play, You Were My Friend, is produced, its script will be available in a Canadian database of theatre for other performers to produce in the future. My novella, Under the Trees, Eaten, will be available for purchase from Amazon for a long time. And if it ever goes out of print, ebooks will still be available. If Amazon ever discontinues the ebooks, I’ll seed it to piracy sites and sell copies by other means. The same goes for any other works of published art or philosophy I create.

Marry for love. Create for happiness. Or terror; whichever
you prefer.
Yet this question of heritage for the future is not even all that necessary. Back in April, I posted about my engagement with Lee Edelman’s No Future, a landmark work of queer theory that engendered some very strong reactions in me. If I can summarize my take on Edelman’s idea, he describes the queer as the living embodiment of the death drive. His Lacanian philosophical framework guides him to understand the only alternative to an uncritical embrace of heterosexual reproduction to safeguard the future to be an embrace of death. If children and the futurity they represent do not matter to you, says Edelman, then you can only be a walking spectre of annihilation.

Needless to say, I am not a fan. First, it’s a mutually exclusive (and alternative-exclusive) dualism, which I consider poor-quality thinking. Now, I do admire the gumption of Edelman embracing precisely the view of non-hetero sexualities that radical social conservatives share, and which motivates their desire to stamp such people out. But it still adds up to an embrace of death. 

There is a way to value one’s life, not because of the legacy you leave for the future, but for the effect you have in the present. One of the central ontological principles of my Ecophilosophy manuscript is that every process in the universe is ultimately interconnected because of their shared causal histories going back to the beginning of the universe and going forward into the future. Because every event has conditions that brought it about and effects that proliferate forward, every event leaves its imprint on the entire process of the universe’s development.

The effects of every event, in some small way, constitute the specifically singular character of the entire universe, throughout its duration. Each event itself is as only it can be, unique in its innate arrangement, singular in its essential nature. Its legacy is unimportant, both the past that led to it and the future that it conditions. The effects an event has on the world while it exists are most important to its value. 

On a personal perspective, that means what matters most in our lives are the effects we have on our co-workers, friends, families, and the wider world around us. Where we come from and our legacies don’t matter; only what we do counts as to the value of our lives. 

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