Pessimism, Fatalism, Realism, Optimism, Hope

by | Jul 12, 2018 | Headline News | 32 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    This article was originally published by Doug “Uncola” Lynn at

    When I first had the idea to write this piece, it was going to justify my own overwhelming sense of foreboding regarding future events that, to me, seem as inevitable as gravity drawing water down a drain. I wanted to defend my perspectives against those who still have hope. First, I would parse the meanings of pessimismfatalism, and realism, and then use persuasive language to show how I was merely being honestly realistic because math.

    I was going to entitle the essay “Embracing Realism with an Attitude of Pessimism and a Foreboding Sense of Fatalism” and demonstrate how I was not a pessimist or a fatalist per se, but rather a realist. I would then use that construct to demolish any remaining hope still aflame within the hearts of the readers; as a favor to them.

    In fact, I even conducted an informal poll to sample the perspectives of awakened and like-minded online travelers. Like the flicker of lanterns in a dark wood, the glint of moonlight from metal on a mountain trail, or a midnight campfire tossing sparks into heaven – I was surprised to see that hope still shined for 6 out of 10 red-pilled wanderers traveling through the entropic cosmos, beyond the great digital divide.

    I actually speculated the Skeptics would outnumber the Believers, but that was not the result.

    Therefore, this essay will be different than what I had originally envisioned. It will, instead, be a tribute to a brilliant Pulitzer-nominated novelist who hung himself in 2008.

    Definition of pessimism

    1 : an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome

    2 a : the doctrine that reality is essentially evil

    b : the doctrine that evil overbalances happiness in life

    Whereas Merriam-Webster’s first definition of pessimism regarding “an inclination to emphasize adverse aspects” would seem indicative of attitude, or personal perspective, the secondary definitions appear to actually flirt with fatalism:

    Definition of fatalism

    : a doctrine that events are fixed in advance so that human beings are powerless to change them; also : a belief in or attitude determined by this doctrine

    Consequently, if I were to be completely honest in my consideration of future events, I would say my fatalistic mindset was a result of realism:

    Definition of realism

    1 : concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary

    2 a : a doctrine that universals exist outside the mind; specifically : the conception that an abstract term names an independent and unitary reality

    b : a theory that objects of sense perception or cognition exist independently of the mind — compare nominalism

    3 : the theory or practice of fidelity in art and literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization

    In other words, I would be pessimistic regarding inevitable (i.e. fixed in advance) forthcoming future tribulations because of the reality of current circumstances; in the same way common sense tells me an omelet will be bad even if only one of the eggs is rotten, let alone the entire batch. Call it extrapolation or inference from evidence, or fatalism (i.e. determinism), or by any other terminology – in any contingency, the future is NOT unknown because it’s coming; or rather, the future’s inevitable arrival is known.

    Then I started thinking about language and entropy, and math, and the phrase “so it was written, so it shall be done” and questioning if the future could actually be locked (i.e. fatalism / predeterminism).

    This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

    – 1 Timothy 3:1

    And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    – Matthew 24:12

    Right or wrong, it was my mindset when I began to consider the second definition(s) of “realism” above regarding the “doctrine that universals exist outside the mind”. This, in turn, caused me to ruminate upon the concept of free will.

    While researching this, I discovered the writings of a dead man; or rather the residual online dynamism of the man and his writings, since I’d not read anything he’d actually written. The dead author’s name was David Foster Wallace and one of his writings, in particular, captured my attention entitled: “Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will”.

    According to my internet research:  The essay was Wallace’s posthumously published 1985 honors thesis that he submitted to the Amherst College’s Department of Philosophy which, specifically, refuted the philosopher Richard Taylor’s 1962 paper entitled: “Fatalism and the Semantics of Physical Modality”.

    Whereby Taylor’s paper outlined six (well-received) presuppositions proving that human beings have no control over fate, the young David Foster Wallace referenced Aristotle, a construct called Deviant Logic, and a principle dubbed the Law of Excluded Middle to prove Taylor’s conclusions erroneous; all because Taylor conflated metaphysics with semantics via these two non-logical, physical implications: “necessary-of” and “necessary-for”.

    Wallace’s adviser on the project, Jay L. Garfield, later stated:

    I thought of David as a very talented young philosopher with a writing hobby, and did not realize that he was instead one of the most talented fiction writers of his generation who had a philosophy hobby.

    Indeed. Wallace’s novel “Infinite Jest” (1996) was ranked by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005; and his final novel, “The Pale King” (2011) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2012.

    Although, as stated prior, I had not read any of Wallace’s writings, it turned out I had heard his words spoken years ago via the audio from a commencement speech he gave in 2005. I remembered that speech, entitled This is Water”, and it began as follows:

    There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”

    And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

    – Wallace, David Foster, “This is Water”, Commencement Speech to Kenyon College Class of 2005

    Later in his speech, Wallace said the point of his fish story was “merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about”.


    In my research, I discovered Wallace was no saint. Like a lot of us, he had his demons and, sadly, hung himself on September 12, 2008 at the age of 46. More recently he was paradoxically named, albeit retroactively, in the #MeToo Movement for previously stalking and harassing his ex-obsession and threatening to kill her husband.

    No matter how smart we think we are, there are some things we can’t understand.

    There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer.

    And the atheist says: “Look, it’s not like I don’t have actual reasons for not believing in God.

    It’s not like I haven’t ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing.

    Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn’t see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out “Oh, God, if there is a God, I’m lost in this blizzard, and I’m gonna die if you don’t help me.”

    And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. “Well then you must believe now,” he says, “After all, here you are, alive.”

    The atheist just rolls his eyes. “No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp.”

    – Wallace, “This is Water”

    Wallace said he used the Eskimo story to discuss what he termed “the whole matter of arrogance”:

    The nonreligious guy is so totally certain in his dismissal of the possibility that the passing Eskimos had anything to do with his prayer for help.

    True, there are plenty of religious people who seem arrogant and certain of their own interpretations, too. They’re probably even more repulsive than atheists, at least to most of us.

    But religious dogmatists’ problem is exactly the same as the story’s unbeliever: blind certainty, a close-mindedness that amounts to an imprisonment so total that the prisoner doesn’t even know he’s locked up.

    The point here is that I think this is one part of what teaching me how to think is really supposed to mean. To be just a little less arrogant. To have just a little critical awareness about myself and my certainties.

    Because a huge percentage of the stuff that I tend to be automatically certain of is, it turns out, totally wrong and deluded.

    – Wallace, “This is Water”

    Like Wallace, I have my own demons and my thoughts can be overly obsessive constantly; even torturous. Like a war vet with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, those who see much, carry much with them. So much, in fact, it becomes hard not to drown.

    ….learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.

    It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.

    Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché quote about the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

    This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth.

    It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in the head.

    – Wallace, “This is Water”

    In the process of taking down some old and dying pine trees on my property a few days ago, it felt like war. Even wearing the appropriate clothing, gloves, protective eyewear, and while exercising extreme caution, I became scratched and bleeding in ways I did not foresee. As I cursed the sap and knife-like needles and branches, an old familiar darkness entered into me once more that said:  All is meaningless and nothing matters.

    For a moment, I could not shake the knowledge that all would soon be ashes and waste; and, as my mind drifted, I wished civilization’s clock would not run out on my dream of having grandkids in a more peaceful, and hopeful, time.

    “But that is not for me,” I thought.

    As I wiped the sweat and blood from my pin-cushioned-by-pine-needle forehead, I looked upward into a magnificent cerulean firmament and let my gaze fall into the distance, where the blue-dome alighted upon the emerald purlieus.  The gentle breeze both cooled and calmed me. I had the moment.  At least I had that.

    The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death.

    It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

    “This is water.”

    “This is water.”

    It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out.

    Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.

    – Wallace, “This is Water”

    Truly, I know little more than this moment; even now, as the future crosses the horizon. It could be fine; but probably not.

    That said, I could have never predicted how the digital dynamism of a dead writer, whose words I’d never read, would turn my sense of fatalism into a tribute of his life, works, and words.

    It was a real learning experience. It showed me anything can happen.


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      1. The following is taken from the woodpilereport(dot)com. I thought is good enough to re post here.

        In mid-June of last year, left-wing activist James Hodgkinson shot and wounded four Congressmen at baseball practice, including House majority whip Scalise who was in imminent risk of death. Aside from the cable news networks who said they “brought it on themselves,” there was condemnation on all sides.

        In the year that’s passed, the sentiment and inclination of Hodgkinson has been reconsidered and tacitly embraced by the Left. They’ve adopted the Antifa idea that opposing Progressives equals White Supremacist Nazi Racism and, to quote them, “it’s okay to punch a Nazi”.

        Having seen the ongoing assaults on prominent Republicans in public places and at their homes, directly and specifically encouraged by the Democratic Party leadership, who believes they would condemn Hodgkinson-like assassinations today? Once loosed, such violence would expand beyond the ability of law enforcement to contain it.

        Francis Porretto put it succinctly: “The storm clouds have breasted the horizon and they’re moving our way fast”. We’ve been here before, the reign of terror in the 1970s with thousands of bombings, targeted criminal assaults, serial urban arson on a large scale and many unpunished murders.

        How serious is the threat? About twenty per cent of the population identifies as Progressive. Not more than twenty per cent of those are committed radicals. Quick arithmetic says about a million strong. Of these, only some will actually participate in violent acts. If history rhymes, they’ll go down to the plantation, spin up the idle hands and set them on the townsfolk.

        Trust fund activists are the darlings of the media so, as in the ’70s, they’ll be portrayed as leading a huge populist movement. As always, behind the smoke and mirrors will be more smoke and mirrors. It’s a mistake to underestimate them however.

        Arm yourself, they will. This advice comes from a reliable source:

        Luke 22:36 – But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it and likewise his pack; and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.

        If you’re in a city it’s useful to know street mobs are deeply impressed by actual opposition. Said differently, they’re cowards. During the 1992 Rodney King riot in Los Angeles, determined Korean-Americans successfully defended their businesses with not much gunfire .

        The goal isn’t “knock ’em down dead at eight hundred yards” like in the movies, the goal is to convince the mob they’re making a mistake. Putting one on the ground, writhing in pain with a blown kneecap, say, is the kind of publicity you just can’t buy.

        A centerfire battle rifle is best, but a typical city block only runs a hundred and some yards, give or take a Starbucks. If all you have is a bunny gun nearly everything is in range. Even a shotgun with serious meat-getter loads covers a lot of it. In most cities the Left is in a position to shut down vendors of ammunition, get as much as you can when you can. And forget “grocery shopping”, lay in supplies, there’s no good reason to get flash-mobbed on a milk run.

        Decide what you will absolutely-for-sure defend. Ally with capable, trustworthy and like-minded neighbors for mutual defense and let it go at that. But don’t go looking for trouble. Again, if you’re in a city, stay away from crowds, they’re trouble by intent. What happens to the crowd happens to you. It’s not as if you’ll be consulted before it all goes bad. There’s never a good reason to forfeit your own good judgment.

        The Left is always preparing for their long-standing fantasy of murderous insurrection. What would we see if they decided the time is right to go for it? We’d see what we are seeing. Be alert. If the game is on, cities will get untenable. You may have to leave. This is something other than “unrest” with its roving mobs of opportunists, it’s a catastrophic collapse of civil order by design.

      2. Life is indeed hard!

        As with the writer Wallace and his “water” metaphor, I commend this readership to the online vids of Dr. Jordan Peterson. He helps those same perceptions of the ‘invisible water’ in which we are all immersed…even we ‘preppers’. God Bless all who struggle here to find meaning.

      3. The love of many will grow cold. Ya think?

      4. “Realism” leads me to the conclusion that I am about to puke because I watched the Demonrat Weasels circle-the-wagons in their efforts to protect the treasonous Sztrok. The congressional investigation into the visible bias that Sztrok displayed will go nowhere because half our country is either ignorant or complicit.







        • Eisenkreutz,

          Don’t paint all boomers with the same brush. It’s only a specific portion of them that fall into your hated category. There is also old people older than boomers like Pelosi, Ginsberg, etc. that are responsible for gobs of this mess.

        • Eisen is off his meds again……..and stuck in the basement.

          • His mom’s basement.

      6. Im optimistic or I wouldn’t plant a garden or build a new fence or even cut my winters firewood. But we also must be realistic. Its wise and prudent to prep for a worst case disaster. My approach is to not give things I cannot change or prevent unnecessary free rent in my head. 99% of stuff folks worry about never happens. So I will cross my bridges or burn them as I get to them. I do think the Guy from the Woodpile Report gives good info and advise.

        • I’m pessimistic. I don’t buy green bananas.

      7. I found it hard to read this article. For me it was like trying to figure out where the light switch is in the bottom of a deep pit. Not that I’ve been in a deep pit. But that is what it seemed like.

      8. People are pessimistic, fatalistic and realistic all wrapped into one mind being.

      9. It may be difficult to live fearlessly, but try it, and you will find you are curious about what happens in the future. This can give you the incentive to prep, not out of fear, but from knowledge and understanding. College boys have to search their whole lives for the meaning of life, and even then, in many cases, they don’t find it in their ruminations of philosophy. I was given a great gift at nineteen, by being thrust into combat in VN. The meaning of life is to live it, and to live it out loud, and as fearlessly as you can. It will be over, soon enough.

        • Great post, Sean. thanks.

      10. “Like Wallace, I have my own demons and my thoughts can be overly obsessive constantly; even torturous.”

        This line reminded me of a film I saw many years back called “A Beautiful Mind.” It’s the story of an real person that lost it and was institutionalized for a time. After his release, he figured out that his demons/madness would present a reality that was not actually there. He began to recognize the signs and found a way to overcome his delusions without pharmaceuticals. Even after returning to his job, he would still have these moments but because he’d found the way to know reality from his unreality he could function.

        There is much more to the entire plot line, of course. And, IRL, it took a long time. However, the takeaway from the movie and this article is that each individual needs to recognize their personal emotional/mental limits; there is so much stuff physical and virtual invading our space that we need to step back from time to time to get grounded in reality again; and it’s okay to do a check on things we take for granted–kind of like checking the windows before winter to be sure they are ready to face the storms.

        I found this article hard to get into, but after a few paragraphs it became quite interesting. Plenty of interesting philosophy to debate.

        • he figured out that his demons/madness would present a reality that was not actually there. He began to recognize the signs and found a way to overcome his delusions

          A millennial?

      11. This article I find fascinating, mostly from my own use of pessimism that I employ and largely misunderstood from friends. I tend not to flirt with the articles second and third definition of pessimism as I’ve often used it as a tool for perception and attitude towards outcome. I find myself often entering a project thinking to myself “This is going to be a real son-of-a-bitch.” Often taking a pessimistic approach right off the bat. This isn’t to demoralize the project, as much as it is a projection of attitude towards the outcome, and largely why I choose not to employ optimism. Entering that project with the pessimistic mind set essentially sets the stage for two outcomes, either I am right, or I am wrong. If I am right, I can to some degree find some level of solace in making the correct prediction, but it’s far more about when I am wrong, as no one generally likes to be wrong. When I am pessimistic towards a project and I am wrong, the outcome is that I am “pleasantly surprised”, in a manner of speaking. Should I approach the same situation optimistically, then the outcome of being wrong is “disappointment”, in a manner of speaking. This to some degree is selfish, but attitude, after-all, is an essential aspect to success, and if I’m to set myself up for one or the other, I’d prefer surprise over disappointment, even if it’s at the cost of being a perpetual “downer”. Setting that to the side, as a free thinking, liberty oriented individual, I find the notions a fatalism reeking with the concepts of post modernalism. The same concepts notions like institutional racism and identity politics stem from. The problem for me, as an existentialist, is that determinism doesn’t play out consistantly. Like situations and like disparities do not generate like outcomes. This leads me to see fatalism as defeatist, and perhaps a natural outcome to realism, but I can’t help but to contend that the notions of choice and self-awareness are the soul of free will. If the rule is the rule, and fatalism is infact reality, then why does there exist any exception to that rule?

      12. All I got out of it is he should let other people cut down trees for him.
        “In the process of taking down some old and dying pine trees on my property a few days ago, it felt like war. Even wearing the appropriate clothing, gloves, protective eyewear, and while exercising extreme caution, I became scratched and bleeding in ways I did not foresee.”

        I own 4 chainsaws. I’m not a professional logger( my SIL was).
        I heated with wood for 20 years. Common sense is an important
        skill every human needs.

        • @ Rellik,

          I have felled many a tree, but no matter how you slice them, taking down old, half-dead sappy pines alone on a hot morning is a nasty endeavor.

          However, that said, I’m definitely open to tips if you have any.

      13. Been reading articles on this site for a while now, and well….I just have to ask, why is Glandalf fighting the Balrog the first image on an article that has no mention of J.R.R. Tolkien or The Lord of the Rings?

        As for the article…didn’t get much from it. I figure one just needs to make things work for them and plan and work on getting somewhere that suites them best. ‘It’s the job that’s never started that takes longest to finish.’ – Fellowship of the Ring

      14. I have found that the more you learn about anything the less you will fear it. I know about thins like snakes ,bees , horses all types of animals. So Im not a bit afraid of them. Once you achieve Know How about something you don’t worry about it any longer. Many folks who fear firearms have never shot one. The are full of unfounded fear because of ignorance about guns. Ive decided whatever happens I will try and embrace it as a new adventure. We all live until we die. And we should enjoy every moment that we possibly can.

      15. I resent this article being used to honor some loser who hanged himself. Wtf. Suicide is bullshit. People who kill themselves are hurting the living. Suicide is condemned as not only a sin, but a grave sin that merits the anguish of hell for eternity. Eternal separation from God is worse than any temporary feeling of guilt, shame, or hopelessness. Courage can be respected. Cowardice and suicide can not be given accolades without creating more copycats. I question your motives.

        Btw, this novelist isn’t so brilliant. He’s an idiot!


        • But ya gotta admit it takes guts to commit suicide. Ive seen folks who had altzimers. you can bet If I was afflicted and knew it. During one of the lucid moments I would take my own life and find out for certain what happens when you die. Im not gonna let some religious superstition run my life.

        • so stay alive to be someone/somethings slave. life is an abomination – its obvious. Those of us that see the water and chose to stay are standing to face you and your mister! I witness against you and am prepared to testify against you and your god – who ever that may be…

      16. Such a great, profound article Mr. Lynn. I especially liked the bar room story. Smiled bigly at that.

      17. The above picture that accompanies the article is very appropriate I think. There is a Gandalf inside all of us who at some point has to turn and face the inevitability of an on-rushing, overwhelming Balrog. Doom awaits us all. The character and manner in which we comport ourselves in response to harsh reality and evil is what defines our lives.

        • Good insight Fritz! Clearly, you ‘get it’.

        • Thanks for getting that, Fritz. Sometimes, it is the words left unsaid that say the most.

      18. Every time you watch tv or film, the protagonists have far more wealth than they actually would based on income. This is why it makes you lose brain cells.

        Americans and Westerners in general are wildly optimistic when young and based on faulty reasoning.

        You expect to content and taken care of when throughout history the opposite was true. Our ancestors had no expectation of this.

        Place your faith in Jesus Christ and not on worldly possessions.

        • when i watch tv i see the antagonist as the good guy. Thanos is good example. So is the latest installment of xxx.

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