The Outsideist Commandments (Suggestments)

As brainstormed on a napkin by the Warmley Wanderers’ Faction in a dustbin behind a fish and chip shop while huffing scrap paper. Transcribed here approximately as it appears in the original document.

  1. Empathy is mandatory
  2. Thou shalt have no other instincts before Empathy
  3. Challenge thy own thoughts, opinions and reasoning
  4. Seek the testimony of unheard voices
  5. Listen comprehensively, attentively, and in good faith
  6. Thou shalt not uncritically accept evidence
  7. Thou shalt not unrealistically deny evidence
  8. Thou shalt not ignore the socioeconomic circumstances
  9. Thou shalt not uncritically accept the socioeconomic circumstances
  10. Thou shalt not believe two-dimensional mental images of three-dimensional people
  11. Thou shalt not instinctively fear or pathologise Other
  12. Thou shalt not lie to thyself about the suffering of Other
  13. Test the waters outside thy ideological comfort zone
  14. No fizzy drinks before 11
  15. The world is a twisted place and this must be acknowledged
  16. Do not look upon the Masters they are not for mortal minds Recognise the power of the fictions we create
  17. Something about politics here?????
  18. Hungry will finish this later

The Suggestments have been held up to a great deal of critical scrutiny within Outsideist circles, with article 14 coming under particular pressure. However, they have also been quoted and repurposed in various ways as concise guidance for new converts. The question of how to bring Outsideist theory into practical application in daily life is one that still fuels debate and development in the community, less than half of it taking place in dustbins.

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The Identity Terror

According to the Outsideists, the existence of people who identify with non-binary conceptions of gender and sexuality does, and righteously, proudly should, pose an active conceptual threat to the Insideists who decry/deny/pathologise said existence.

The fear that animates human beings to wail, ‘these people are all mentally ill! it’s going to destroy our society!’ is the fear of the concept of life expanding beyond the arbitrary limits of information that their entire worldview exists inside (and revealing those limits’ artificiality in the process). The fear of humanity becoming – nay, having been all along – something unknown, unfamiliar, and infinite. At its core, this is a cosmic horror.

As an Outsideist might bluntly put it, they’re scared of turning into tentacle beasts. The end point of all this gender transgression is Yog-Sothoth.

Why else would they convince themselves they understand the inner life of a complete stranger, whom they’ve never listened to, enough to conclude that they are unfit for accommodation in society? Or in cases of “this can’t be real”, why else put such an inordinate level of faith in the alleged perfection of the body:subconscious duality – a borderline religious disbelief in biological variation?

The Outsideists do generally agree about the ‘it’s going to destroy our society’ part though – the only difference is that they view this as something actively desirable, so that a better society might replace it. Fragmenting all categories of gender and sexual attraction into a terrifying, chaotic, fractally idiosyncratic maelstrom would be a huge step on the way towards an empathy-driven and creative understanding amongst humanity. An inability to categorise severely hinders the ability to caricature, and the breakdown of arbitrarily constructed Insideist social codes means the erosion of structurally imposed suffering.

But what to make of someone who claims they are already, in fact, a squid? Or a different being whose consciousness is utterly foreign to the human brain; perhaps even a fictional or mythological creature? The noted Outsideist monk/cultist crackpot Artiqu[]o O. Ogeny was once confronted by a strident skeptic on this matter. “You say you embrace people whatever their identity. But where do you draw the line? You claim fealty to observable reality,” he pressed, “but will you humour even blatant mental illness?!”

Ogeny massaged their bald, multicoloured scalp for seven seconds, then replied.

“The line is drawn only where suffering begins. We bear no scorn for the Inside that by nature defies material circumstances – only for the Inside that by weakness denies them, and so wilfully propagates suffering.” As the skeptic went to blusterously reply, Ogeny raised a thick finger to hush him. “We deem ‘ill’ not simply that which breaks the codes of human behaviour and creates petty terror in your kind; only that which creates inescapable suffering. Our creed is empathy. Compassion. If that means treating someone who says they’re a dog like they’re a dog, then so be it. I’m sure we’ll live. Now piss off.”

More recent study suggests Ogeny was in part covering up for the underground facility in their basement. Irrespective of this, Outsideists to date still refer to Artiqu[]o O. Ogeny’s statement regarding the ‘petty terror’ of identities, electing not to join the hounding and mocking Internet mob, and adamantly subordinating the (historically fungible) definitions/associations of mental illness that are so often used as an empathy-blocker in rankest Insideism.

[The results of the experiments have not yet come to light.]

Outsideism: a quick(ish) guide

Reading the introductory post “Outside” is recommended before reading this.

Outsideism:

The belief that the ideal human is one who deliberately seeks:

  • Empathy; complete with a nuanced understanding of every other human being
  • Full understanding of the human situation’s staggering complexity

The belief that human beings, at least in the current socioeconomic environment, are naturally predisposed to shy away from these things – and that this tendency must be actively battled.

The belief that all one’s own thoughts should be held up to critical inspection, with the aim of weeding out any thoughts that seek to caricature/deny/self-delude about another person’s lived experience and humanity.

The belief that every single aspect of the world should be understood as part of a linked system that can be researched, traced to its historical causes (with an interest in the unreliable idiosyncrasy of human life), and criticised for its contribution to human suffering – nothing can be treated as if it exists in a vacuum. No person, no concept, no political position, no event.

The view that, while the human need to shut oneself away from empathy and empirical information is a sympathetic one, it is also the defining crisis of humanity and responsible for all inter-human suffering.

Some self-identifying Outsideists advocate for the forcible conversion of all non-Outsideists to the cause via verbal mind-hacking, occult rituals, and exposure to personal testimony from victims of their complacency. There is no consensus agreement.

Outsideists’ predilection towards empathy makes them fundamentally against suffering. As such, they do not believe there is ‘no right answer’ and ‘we can all just get along as is’. While they seek to understand and empathise with Insideists, this does not mean giving them a pass, or hemming and hawing about the fact of Insideism’s moral ruin.

Insideism:

Defined within the Outsideist framework as:

  • the habitual acceptance of thoughts/ideas that exist to smooth over and fabricate an ethically convenient, narrow and cartoonish view of other people/the world.

Ethical convenience: Insideism manifests severely in human beings who could be described as in positions of unfair systemic advantage, and who implicitly benefit from systems that create human suffering (e.g. members of first-world countries, people of economic or social privilege). Hear the Call. Maintaining a guilt-free existence in these positions, with both the capacity for empathy and an accurate understanding of the human suffering being generated, is factually impossible. Communion with a fathomless thirty-mouthed creature suggests that over half of Insideist thinkers reading this paragraph will already be reaching for the Close Tab button, having seen the merest hint that they are about to be assigned ethical responsibility. But don’t listen to that old thing.

Due to the suffering that guilt inflicts, as well as the unease and fear that comes with potential change, it is only natural that a great deal of modern societal codes and psychological processes exist to ease it. This can only be achieved by sacrificing either empathy, or sacrificing understanding of the world’s interconnectedness, because those two things in tandem reveal the crushing moral horror of the present world and one’s own complicity in helping it continue.

Most Insideist thinking exists as part of a worldview that conveniently absolves the thinker of ethical responsibility. This often involves contrived apologia for/defense of established social and political norms, an insistence on preserving (or indeed worsening) the status quo, and a denial of suffering faced by other people.

Caricaturing: A cartoon view of other human beings is fundamental to Insideism. By creating an unrealistic, two-dimensional mental image of an opponent – a caricature – in place of an accurate understanding of them, the thinker can shield themselves from both empathising and grasping the web of social circumstances around that person.

Maintaining a caricature requires two things. One is an adamant mental resistance to the caricatured individual’s personal testimony – listening to them properly runs the risk of inciting empathy. The other is a constant process of subconscious side-stepping so that the blatant absurdity of the caricature reflects not on the Insideist thinker who dreamt it up, as you might obviously think, but – paradoxically, in a feedback-loop way – on the person being caricatured; for being just so gosh darned silly.

Insideists are often seen to express slack-jawed disbelief that their opponents could be so incomprehensibly absurd, devoid of cause or sanity. This is because they have swallowed their own fiction, and done so as a survival tactic.

My tone is detached and flippant. Mental caricaturing gets people murdered.

To mentally caricature a human being is to become immune to their suffering, after which point you may do anything to them. To an Outsideist, it is an immoral act, even on the tiniest level. But rather than something to be glorified as a grand demon, it is something deeply pathetic, to be morbidly pitied.

It’s a continuum, not a binary

No-one is wholly Insideist or Outsideist. Even the most paranoid gun-toting fascist wants happiness for their friends or family. Outsideness is a basic human impulse, but one that is easily strangled and warped by fear. Outsideist thoughts jostle for room alongside Insideist ones in every human head. They can even be nested within each other.

This framework easily transcends the current political spectrum. Not that any Outsideist worth their salt would be caught dead saying “both sides are as bad as each other!”, a cravenly Insideist sentiment in its erasure of real suffering. Obey the Call. But the ability to understand any mindset in terms of Outside/Inside shines a light on the nuanced human weakness that exists on all sides.

To be an “Outsideist” is not to attain the terrifying goal of erasing all Insideist thoughts. It means to understand why Outsideist ones are better for alleviating human suffering, and to aspire towards that target.

What about all that tentacle beast stuff?

This is the fun bit.

Outside-leaning thoughts and feelings in society are often seen as weak. People who believe in empathy are associated with fragility, petulance, hand-wringing inefficacy. People who believe in understanding a situation are often seen as pretentious fantasists talking nonsense.

Outsideists see this for the falsehood it is. Outsideists are extremely matter-of-fact about the powerful, unignorable moral demands of their cause, and the almost comical patheticness of all that which opposes it.

They are also highly aware of their own weirdness.

It is easy to extend the aim of ‘a complete understanding of the human situation’ beyond its obvious limits, such as the boundaries of the material universe. The nature of local reality is as pertinent to our social circumstances as anything!

It is also easy to see how the deep human fear of what lies beyond that existence – in the inconceivable dark – is related to the deep human fear of outside knowledge and empathy.

What if we look into the dark and find something truly terrible? The discovery that our lives are worthless?

What if we look outside our own heads and find something earth-shattering? The discovery that we are complicit in torture and misery?

For this reason, the monstrous conceptual chaos beasts outside reality – a fiction based on our terror at the potential of the Unknown – serve as a reasonably apt metaphor for the Unknown in our daily lives, and the lies we tell ourselves about it.

Metaphorically, Outsideism is the quest to understand what, if anything, those beings truly are. Embracing the possibilities that come with those billion-faced squid things twitching and writhing at the window. Subverting our fearful image of them. That is really rather weird, in a way that’s both funny and intimidating – and, with sufficient self-awareness, resistant to virtually all mockery.

I mean, where do you even start?

The desire to go Outside is the desire to trouble and subvert many of the logics of current society – to become a Weird presence. It should not be the whiny voice pleading for concession or throwing a tantrum. It should be the freak; the conceptual terror that cuts at the heart of humankind and cannot be dismissed. Thrilling. Intimidating, yet seductive in its sheer rightness. Filled with strange and magical potential. Unapologetic and stone-faced in its relaying of the miserable truth, through which it manifests its anger at the world – yet overflowing with kindness and humour, too; infinitely willing to listen and understand if it means resolving suffering.

Perhaps the Outsideists are a cult of mad folk, who dress up in costumes and go around having Cthulhu-themed multi-sexual orgies. Perhaps they are incredibly annoying in their refusal to disappear or shut up. Perhaps they just make you sad, the way they rabbit on about colossal conceptual ideals you are certain have no hope of ever being indulged.

Who cares?

As surely as those great Unknowns at the end of time are coming for our souls, so too are the Outsideists.

Now who’s that at the door?