the suboptimalist manifesto

suboptimalism is the celebration of inefficiency, insufficiency, imperfection. it is the inverse of the current prevailing achievement society, or meritocracy, or optimalism, whatever you want to call it.

for the sake of productivity and efficiency, the optimalists try to reduce everything to numbers and metrics, to minima and maxima. their ruthless quest for optimization has no room for anything in between, like say for example the vast breadth and diversity of human life.

what is the end goal? you will have lots of money and be happy... you will own nothing and be happy.. or something... really, it's all just about playing the game of constantly feeding the beast. the beast has a lot of names: mammon, moloch, capitalism... but as an abstract conceptor some might say egregore and not a hostile superintelligence from the future bootstrapping itself, it will never be satisfied.

how can we be so sure? the optimalists, as self-appointed beast oracles, have made up ways to quantify how much the beast is being fed, things like the "gdp" or "stock market indices"one wonders if they made up the beast as well. notice, though, the charts have no end, no goal, no point at which to say "pack it up boys, we're done here". the lines must keep going up, forever...

so the truth is, the game was rigged from the start. you can't win because there is no win condition, no good ending. you can optimize as much as you want, feed the beast as much as possible with the least effort as the optimalists are trying to do, but it will never be enough.  

as the optimalism game goes on and the competition gets fiercer, the increasingly machinic and super-/in-human demands start becoming unattainable for more and more people. there's just no way to keep up at some point if you're not wired for it, a born beast-feederdue to genes, privilege, etc.. the most insidious part is that those who fail the game are made to believe that it is all their fault, that they didn't work hard enough, that they didn't try hard enough, that they didn't want it enough, that they didn't read enough productivity tips, didn't take the productivity pills or the productivity juice, that they're useless and worthless. from this in part we get our modern mental epidemics: depression, anxiety, stress, neuroticism, burnout a common response to this is "but the science says it's caused by the heckin' brain chemicals!!" yeah, well, that still doesn't explain how the brain chemicals got messed up in the first place. see: capitalist realism, pg. 37

with a game like this, the only winning move is not to play. if feeding the beast is playing out as it has been, then what's the harm in trying to starve it? the appropriate response when optimalist beast-feeders and the society they've built tell you "you're useless and worthless" is the chad “yes”. after all, they are only really condemning your beast-feeding abilities.

would you even want to be good at it? who are the champion beast-feeders anyway? they are elon musk 28 hours a day grindset workaholics and patrick bateman american psycho big city finance rich parents guys. excellent.

seems like the better option, in fact the revolutionary option if you think about it, is to revel in inefficiency, to deliberately do things the slower way or the harder way. stop minimizing, stop maximizing, settle in the middle. there's plenty of room and you were probably going to end up there anyway. accept the mantle of mediocrity and enjoy the view looking down on both sides from the top of the comfy hill at the center of the bell curve.

how to be a suboptimalist? the most important thing is not to worry about it too much. if you try too hard to be a perfect suboptimalist, you have missed the point entirely. in any case, here are some guiding principles, parallelized and memeticized for ease of rememberingand me writing them as well:

there are probably many flaws in suboptimalism, some of which i'm already aware of. this tends to happen when you leave the "my first manifesto" kit unopened like i did. does this mean i will work hard to refine suboptimalism until it is perfect? of course not, because after all, suboptimalism should be suboptimal. every flaw is a feature.