Sunday, 24 October 2021

Calibrating measures of success (and failure) as a dissident intellectual.

A lot of these people have ended up with a much smaller audience than myself… despite the fact that they really are pandering to the crowd (telling people whatever it is that they want to hear, etc.).

I certainly never imagined that I'd end up with a larger audience than Wayne Hsiung or Paul Bashir.

Both of them have had millions of dollars (in donations) pass through their hands in the last few years —and yet, really, nobody is interested in whatever it is they have to say next.

And I, also, am not interested in hearing what they have to say next, to be perfectly honest.

So, yes, it is interesting to try to calibrate your measurements for success and failure —when you're promoting a message as profoundly unpopular as I happen to be.

How many of these youtube channels do you recognize?  For the answers, see below.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Getting hate mail from a fellow vegan youtuber: "Vegan Footsoldier".

[Footsoldier writes:]

I am indeed totally unaware of your previous videos on util [i.e., the critique of Utilitarianism] because I haven't watched them. If you don't like util, then that's great! I think the online vegan space would be a better place if less people were into crazy nonsense bullshit like util. You may have also began publicly hating util before I did and I'm fine with you being the winner of that competition.

I openly admit I didn't have a good grasp on philosophy when I first started my channel but at the time that wasn't the purpose. My channel was initially supposed to be a vegan music and comedy show. But my general impression is that, I went from not knowing anything about philosophy the start of 2017 to binge learning ever since and now I'm pretty confident discussing and debating meaningfully with people who have formally studied it. Whereas with you, you seem to have always had some high school level understanding of philosophy since you started your channel but you have never demonstrated in any videos that I have watched, that you have even a first year undergraduate student level of philosophy on any given issue. In the same way you claim to be fluent in Thai and Laotian but I have never heard you speak any other language than english.

[Note to the audience: notice how he says that I "claim to be fluent in Thai and Laotian", rather than actually referring to anything I've ever said or written on the topic —i.e., he's either unaware of or intentionally lying about what I've said (repeatedly, and at length) about my experience with the language, and about forgetting the language. He tries, from the outset, to make it seem as if I've offered outlandish claims, that I cannot support; but even the first half of that equation (i.e., the outlandish claim) is just his own invention.  He has been to Chiang Mai many times, and he's probably met other vegans there, who saw me speaking Thai with taxi drivers and fruit vendors —but no, I would not claim to be "fluent" in Thai —I merely happen to be infinitely more advanced in the language than he is!]

I do not mean to say you can't, or you are not secretly a philosophy post grad, it means I have personally yet to see any such video which demonstrates a level of competence with philosophy in which I would expect you were educated to even undergraduate level. I have made plenty of phil videos now, and done dozens of public live debates. You still after 5 years won't even have a discussion with me on anything, let alone do a live debate on a given proposition, even one of your choosing, despite me having extended that invitation many times.

Here is a video where I present many positive cases for veganism and discuss their merits and shortcomings, including a few arguments I personally developed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZFIDFi1gzI

Do you have a specific video you can share with me which makes a positive case for veganism which you think is of a good quality, which discusses real philosophy and not just personal opinion responding to people you disagree with?

———————————————

Footsolider,

Look, you'll find any excuse to denigrate me and insult me: just admit it to yourself.  You're EXTREMELY biased in seeing what you want to see, and ignoring everything you don't want to see —and this has been a pattern with you for five years (or however long I've known you, and it must be at least five years at this point).

Do I know anything about philosophy?

How about Buddhist philosophy, does that count?

How about classical Chinese philosophy, does that count?

How about Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, does that count?

How about Marxism/Communism (i.e., from an ANTI-Marxist, Anti-Communist perspective), does that count?

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are examples of areas of philosophy that I have made numerous youtube videos about —and they could (hypothetically) provide some basis for you to show some positive respect/appreciation toward me.

That never happens with you.

It doesn't matter if I speak Chinese on camera, or if I show you my Chinese handwriting: you have no positive interest in anything I've done —you ONLY look for an opportunity to denigrate and insult me.

Honestly, this is less of a problem for me than it is for you.

Again: you supported Durianrider.  How?  You saw what you wanted to see, and you remained oblivious to things that you did not want to see.

Let me ask you: have you read Thucydides?  Have you read Appian?  Have you read Sallust?  Have you read Aristotle?

Have you watched videos I've made in which I discussed any/all of those authors?  Have you watched videos in which I offered a critique of Buddhist philosophy, or of Confucianism, or of other ancient Chinese authors less commonly known (Lord Shang, etc.), showing that I'm conversant in those areas of study?

What you will say, inevitably, is, "Well, I haven't seen any of those videos!"  For years, when I offered evidence of what my channel actually said on any given issue (even Nina and Randa) you'd write back saying, "Well, you can't expect me to watch SEVERAL HOURS of your videos!" —and the reality is that if you wanted to have a sense of how much or how little I know about philosophy, you would indeed need to listen to several hours of my video —OR ACTUALLY READ MY WRITTEN WORK.

You are aware that I have written work, right?

Re: "You still after 5 years won't even have a discussion with me on anything, let alone do a live debate on a given proposition, even one of your choosing, despite me having extended that invitation many times."

Look, I don't know if you've been diagnosed with something or not: if you just pause to reflect even on the videos you made and deleted yourself (without me going back and screen-shotting old emails, etc.) can you admit to yourself that this is totally false?

How about your claim that you've never seen me speaking Chinese?

This was recorded during an entrance examination I took for a university Chinese language course (no preparation, no dictionary, no notes, etc.) just a few weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYvjEdJELwU

As you can imagine, this was done via ZOOM due to Coronavirus restrictions.

Ah, yes, there certainly is a dearth of evidence of how philosophically sophisticated a person I might be, Footsoldier!  Just as it is really difficult for you to find evidence of my history of language ability in Chinese, etc.!

You are, in your own idiom, "a nutter".

You're a person I have zero respect for, intellectually or ethically.

And let me say this to you directly, Footsoldier: I don't believe ANYTHING that you tell me.  You claim you don't believe how much Chinese I've studied (although I can show you evidence, including certificates I've earned for studying the language, etc.)… let me say… NONE of your claims have ANY evidence to support them… you have NO writing, NO published work, and NONE of your videos demonstrate that you EVEN have a high-school level understanding of any of the books you CLAIM that you've read.  When you say you've read a book, I assume you HAVEN'T read it, because I know you're a person of zero integrity: the same way that you lied about Durianrider, you'll lie about anything else.  You'll tell any lie, and you'll believe any lie, just to aggrandize yourself and to denigrate others —you've been doing it for years, and you're not about to change.

I thought you would have figured this out by now.

And dude, look in the mirror: if you really think I can't speak Chinese… how the hell does that help your ignorant ass out?  If you think I'm lying about what I achieved in Pali, Laotian, etc. (more than 10 years ago)… how or why does that make you feel better about yourself?  Look in the mirror and think about what an enormous level of effort it would take for me to falsify the record of what I've accomplished (languages, research, publications, formal and informal education)… and now look at what you've done in the last five years of your life, and how little you've got to show for it.

There's no evidence that you're an intellectual, Foot.

None.

There's no evidence that you ever have been, or that you ever will be.

You don't have what it takes to live "the life of the mind" right now.

And you never will.

But hey: prove me wrong.  I'd be so happy if you actually grow a brain cell, and one day prove me wrong.

E.M.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Elitism: My Changing Approach to "Micro-Fame".

[Note: a few other mean-spirited (and seemingly crazy) messages have been omitted, to leap to the relatively "happy ending" to the correspondence, below.]


[Vanima:]

I apologize I knew the question was absurd and yes, I did in fact discredit your work, I'm just curious and living a life of distractions and am confused, that email was insulting I admit and it's a shame... As I mentioned earlier my mind's jumpy and for the wrong reasons. I apologize and from now on I'd rather actually listen, I talk more than I know and that was stupid, I tried to get to an end cause I had a certain belief, I didn't find any source, one guy on the internet (my bad curiosity again) said you might not be vegan and I wasn't confident enough with his points but I just knew Vegan Cheetah wasn't vegan and it was suspicious (I'm sorry again), I thought you might be as well but I was attacking you personally and was angry with your response, I admit defeat.. Forgive me if you can, I'll just switch channels or listen from here on. I don't actually listen, my anger got the better of me. I apologize and won't write to you again.

—————

Thank you for your apology.

Apology accepted.

I was young once.

I know what it's like to be wrong.

I know what it's like to be stupid.

And I know what it takes to grow.

I know what it takes to change.

I know it isn't easy.

It wasn't easy for me.

I wasn't always wise.  I wasn't always brilliant.

And sometimes the hardest thing is just having the detachment to see what's in front of your face —to neither disregard it nor subtract from it nor add to it.  To see what the evidence is first, and to have a separate category in your own mind for what your opinion is about it, what your doubts are about it, what your feelings are about it, and what your conclusions are about it.

Yes, I am really vegan.

Yes, I really was a scholar of Buddhism.

Yes, I really have studied Chinese in Kunming (and I'm brutally honest about how little of the language I know: I don't exaggerate my accomplishments in that respect).

Attached is my C.V. / résumé.

None of this was easy for me.  It won't be easy for you.

But you will be able to learn from other people's experience: other people's wisdom, other people's folly, other people's mistakes.

I tried to be friends with many foolish people on the internet, including Vegan Cheetah (back when he was vegan).  I don't make that effort anymore.  Now, I respond in the very confrontational way that I did when you wrote to me.  In some ways that's better and in some ways that's worse.

I'm no longer trying to build an open, inclusive, broad-based movement that would include people like Vegan Cheetah —and I don't even try to reach out to (and encourage / include) people like yourself.  My approach, now, is overtly elitist.

That is "bad" in some very obvious ways.  Inviting people like Vegan Cheetah into your life is bad in other ways, perhaps less obvious.

E.M.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

You do realize the intellectual caliber of criticism I'm facing here.

[I've put the messages from the "fan" in italics, just to make the contrast between the two authors easier to see.]

————————————

[Vanima writes to me as follows:]

Really weird question for you and is quite off-putting but I don't mean any disrespect, my brains just a bit too jumpy along with my fingers... here it is: Are you really vegan? No disrespect I really mean it out of curiosity.. Please.... no lies

[Emphasis added to indicate my incredulity at receiving this question.]

BTW I'm sorry for the other day it was just a video from Fandar III and I was curious about your response to him which was kind of shocking but not shocking at the same time, cause fandar has been a long term hater and conspiracy theorist, I didn't want to answer the other day cause it was such a... stupid question. :/ I was basically like, "Is that really him"

Really good critique of the anonymous for the voiceless though and I think that criticism was a 100% meaningful and it actually makes common sense to anyone and that wasn't hating by any means, that contributes fully against the movement if you ask me, shutting your mouth is the worst you can do it's true, people have jobs and other things to do than stand there.

————————————

[Two minutes later, she writes again:]

BTW I was talking about your comments on the gabby petito case in my earlier email.

————————————

[My reply:]

Never write to me again.

Not now.

Not five years from now.

Not ever.

E.M.

[Note: this is not unprecedented.  Some of you may recall that I replied to a self-evidently stupid and/or crazy "fan" a few years ago asking her to never write back to me.  She responded with an escalating series of threats (that she'd have her lawyer sue me, etc.)… but the emal I'd sent that infuriated her was just a single-sentence long, "Never write to me again."  That video is still on my channel, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Je82VMv9BlE  I did receive later email from some kind of male relative of hers (or boyfriend?)… these messages told the tale of a grim fate ensuing for her thereafter, with worsening "mental health issues"… but, of course, I cannot verify the truth of what was merely told to me in such an email.]

————————————

To E.M.(Immoral brat)😂, So you're telling me, you're charitable? You're kind? You're moral? You're ethical? I'm pleased to know the truth anyway, I in fact knew you're a liar, Learn what ethics is, and yes, there's no way in the world, you're a scholar of buddhism, you're not ethical in the lowest sense. We need to get rid of people like you in the movement who lie to people's faces, I've tried my best to be charitable :/ You know I did, sad to see your ego get the better of you and I will in fact learn from this lesson, if you're angry about my comments on youtube and you came to a dead end, I'll remove the offensive comments but the truth needs to be spilled sometimes, whether you like it or hate it.

Van: Narcissist catcher and truth detective :)

————————————

Vanima,

I'm not angry at you.

I'm busy.

I reply to intelligent people.

You're an idiot.

You've demonstrated --repeatedly-- that you're an extremely stupid person.

If you want a vegan activist who will talk to you —no matter how stupid you are— please try StellaTheLight.  She charges $299 per month.  Inasmuch as I understand the service she offers, she will talk to you by voice and text message for a full month, for that price.  Perhaps you'd find that very encouraging.

That's not what I do.

I talk to brilliant, hardworking, talented people.

They don't pay me.  I don't pay them.  They recognize my ambition, and I recognize theirs.  That's why we make time for each-other.

You know how to use google?

You can read an avalanche of evidence as to my history as a scholar of Buddhism, if you can simply use google.

https://medium.com/@eiselmazard

^ Just hit "page down" and scroll through that list of articles.

You can read an avalanche of evidence showing that I'm vegan (in both writing and video form) going back many years.

Examples:

(1)

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZEkgohG7k7rStbYGdBRzEgyPVm3RHqMT

(2)

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZEkgohG7k7qrHC5-UQDpMKvEmQjPiTTv

(3)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCK5fXUaRj0

Anyone can read the articles I've written, anyone can watch the youtube videos I've published.

Anyone and everyone.

Not everyone gets to communicate with me by email.

Not everyone gets to talk to me via the telephone, via Skype, etc.

Not everyone gets to meet me in person.

No, not everyone.

Talented, hardworking, brilliant people —or, at least, people who seem intelligent, interesting and promising.

You have none of these redeeming qualities.

Apparently, you find it very easy to revile me as (1) someone who doesn't speak Chinese, (2) someone who never was a scholar of Buddhism, and (3) as someone is not (and never was?) vegan.  This demonstrates that you are both stupid and malign: you are not able to understand the evidence that is in front of you —and you have bad intentions (in "seeing only what you want to see", and what it is that you "want" reflects very badly on you).

So, again, simply: never write to me.

You can watch my videos.  You can learn from my videos.

But you won't.

Some people can learn.  Some people can improve.

Not you.

You're going to remain an imbecile forever.

E.M.

————————————

Another example showing how self-indulgent you can be, if you want to call people stupid without any context whatsoever, we're talking about veganism not buddhism, as I said, I won't write to you ever again, period. Let me tell you something you're extremely dumb and mean-spirited if you reply to me and even reply simply anything to me, if you reply, you're stupid and ugly, along with being fat. If you reply, you're all that  ^

-Signed Narc catcher Van

[You do realize the intellectual caliber of criticism I'm facing here.]

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Remember 2013? My Final Judgement on Buddhism.

This was an email sent to a "professional Buddhist" layperson: someone who is neither a monk nor a scholar, but who has a lifetime of experience organizing events, lectures, etc., and doing fundraising for Buddhist institutions (that would often brutally disappoint her after she'd handed over the money).  She had known me in Toronto, before I departed to start my life in Asia.  This message was sent in 2013, when (as you'll see) I'd given up on Buddhism because I'd given up on Buddhists as people.

—————

> You would know yourself how much closer to love-compassion and
> wisdom your are since you first encountered the teaching…

I disagree:

• Before I encountered Buddhism, I already had an excellent philosophy
that I had pieced together from sources as diverse as ancient Greece
and 19th century Germany.

• Buddhism did not provide me with a new philosophy: Buddhism provided
me with an ancient literature to study, and set of modern (political
and social) problems to study --and the opportunity to try to help with
the poverty of Laos, Cambodia, etc.

• There are fundamental things that the Buddha taught that I do not
believe in (and I do not lie to myself about this).  If someone is
walking in the mountains, and they see ghosts of dead people being
tortured by demons, I think the person is hallucinating.

Hallucinations are real.  I do not believe that ghosts and demons are
things that are real.  I do not believe that a brain can exist without
a stomach; I do not believe there are ghosts and demons floating
around that do not eat food, and yet can think, and see, and hear, and
talk, etc. etc., in a magical form.

Buddhist philosophy is interesting.  Ancient Greek philosophy is also interesting.

My experience with real Buddhists (who are alive today) has been
entirely negative --both with people and with institutions.

Would my experience have been equally negative if I had worked on
Ancient Greek philosophy?  I doubt it.

Modern Buddhists are afraid of what the ancient texts say (even
Richard Gombrich).  They can't study them, they can't debate them,
they can't discuss them openly.  That is very sad.  That is part of
the decline (and death) of Buddhism as a religion in our century.  The
same is not true of Ancient Greek.

Everywhere in the world, Buddhism is in decline:

• Buddhism is in decline in Thailand,

• Buddhism is in decline in Sri Lanka,

• Buddhism is in decline in Taiwan, Japan, Mainland China, Korea, etc. etc.

There was an illusion of a great Buddhist revival at the end of World
War Two (because many countries regained independence, etc.) but it
was only an illusion.  Buddhism, today, is really collapsing --both as
a religion and in every other sense of the word.


In my whole life, I have never met anyone who can actually have a
conversation about original Buddhist philosophical texts with me.  Not
even Leonard Priestley!  Not even Richard Gombrich!  When I offered
simple (but "new") observations about the 12 links, nobody in the
whole world (not even Bhikkhu Bodhi, etc.) could actually have a
conversation about it.

That's the death of Buddhism right there.


> Pali and Cree are extremely specialized fields.

Pali and Buddhist studies are SUPPOSEDLY important to millions of
people (who call themselves Buddhists).

I should be able to meet people who care about these subjects
everywhere --from Bangkok to Taipei-- that people call themselves
Buddhists.

Similarly, Hebrew is important everywhere that people call themselves
Christians and Jews.

If you make a list of universities where I can get a serious education
in Hebrew, the list is very (very!) long --and it is not just in
Israel, but in Europe, America, and everywhere.

If you make a list of universities where I can get a serious education
in Pali or Buddhist studies… in my opinion (after many years of
research) the answer is NOWHERE.  That is a serious failure.

Cree is a very different question, that I think we are not debating
here, so I say no more about that subject now.


> You
> must have known that before you decided to study them.

Why don't you ask me questions, instead of making assertions like this?

You know I have written several articles about what my economic
situation was (in Asia) and what my hopes and expectations were.

Please read them (they are short, and not "academic" in tone).

http://a-bas-le-ciel.blogspot.com/2012/09/No-Nostalgia-for-Laos.html


[The other link has disappeared from the internet, but it can be found quoted here, if you search for my name, Eisel Mazard:]

https://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?p=176505&sid=4d2434551dddeb143f59b0beeadc845a#p176505


> I understand you have new responsibility now to your family, something you
> didn't have in the early years of your study. I certainly think you can
> reconvene your study in an area that is more in demand by the general
> public, and getting well-paid for it.

I disagree.  I think my life is already over --and the indifference of
people in Buddhist institutions (big and small, even including
yourself) is a large part of what has destroyed my life.

[Note that I never once spoke in terms of the difficulty of "getting paid for it", because I genuinely did not think of the problem this way (and my motivations were not so mercenary!)… whereas she does view the issue in this way, first and foremost.]


> …and your work experience was
> also.

No, Chris, you're wrong: NOBODY looks at my C.V. and is impressed.

THE ONLY PEOPLE who could be impressed are people inside Buddhist
institutions --the same people who have slammed the door in my face
and refused to help me for so many years.  If a dedicated Buddhist
studies department looks at my C.V. and DOES NOT want to help me, who
do you think DOES want to help me?  In what discipline, or in what
type of work, is my C.V. impressive?  It is only impressive to
Buddhists --and Buddhism is a disaster.

I regret --utterly regret-- that I ever became involved with this religion.

The Buddhists I have known (as people) have made me ashamed that I
ever called myself a Buddhist.


> Maybe you want to help a Buddhist
> organization…

Why don't you try to name one Buddhist organization --ANYWHERE IN THE
WORLD-- that would employ me.  The answer is: there isn't one anywhere.


> You can blame "Buddhism" all you like, but it
> won't change anything.

No, Chris, you're wrong: I have changed things.  My absence changes
things.  The number of white men who can read Pali is amazingly close
to zero.  When I quit, it becomes even closer to zero.  Buddhism
desperately needs honest scholars.  By discarding me, it DOES change
things.  Ten good scholars --alive in the same century-- would make a
huge difference.  One scholar quitting does matter (because the total
number is so few).  My presence made a difference when I was present,
and my absence makes a difference now that I'm gone.

The number of white men with combined expertise in Pali, Lao,
Cambodian, the history, the politics, etc. etc. is really zero.

Buddhism lost an asset when it lost me; nobody cared, and (even now)
nobody cares.

I don't blame "Buddhism" for anything it is not guilty of; my
complaints are neither poorly-informed nor spurious.  Sadly, I am an
expert in the things I am reviling.

E.M. 

Thursday, 29 July 2021

I am (still) working on the book full time (i.e., No More Manifestos).

I had thought I was at the stage of final editing --just removing a few typos, etc.-- but I now can read the book as a whole (from start to finish) and I find that the first few chapters are not as well written as the final few --and so more revisions will ensue.

I do think that all of the changes now will be stylistic, rather than substantive, but as the month of July comes to an end, the book is not (yet) finished.



Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Don't Make Excuses for People who Make Excuses: the Slogan, the T-Shirt, the Lifestyle.

Did I coin this slogan?  According to Google, I did: this is one of many (MANY!) turns of phrase that the internet has no record of before I said it… although it seems as if it should be in common usage (frankly, it seems as if you might find it printed on a t-shirt!).

Whenever I search for this kind of thing, I'm wondering, "Did somebody say that in a movie I saw as a child… ?" --i.e., I'm wondering if I really made it up myself, or if there's some familiar source for it that escapes me.