Archive for January, 2005
Monday, January 31st, 2005
If you are of reasonable intelligence, you can plan ahead, and in fact favor thinking toward the long term for any big decisions. For this reason, you recognize that our society is slowly heading toward self destruction as it consumes irreplaceable resources and ecosystems while expanding at no particular level of merit; the piles of waste, and shattered cultures, that it leaves behind are a result of this obliviousness to long-term thinking. Of course, that leaves you in a pickle: you’re the long-term thinker who realizes this is a suicide march, and you would like to do something about it. “But what? Right now!” shrieks the voice of neurotic panic in your head.
Some will immediately screech at you to begin flyering every available surface, or to stand in some kind of silly rally out in the rain, but really, these activities only make the participants feel good and are generally ignored by everyone else. Others will talk about the necessity of immediate violence, or of making inflamed and bigoted speeches, or of finding some way to get onto the news for your twenty seconds before they switch to a story about multicultural hemorrhoids. To my mind, it seems as if these are spiritually unhealthy means of being a dissident; mainly, they focus on making you feel better, but by applying a palliative like a drug, they momentarily suspend reality with illusion and then return you back to it with twice the force.
The main problem afflicting us now is that no one agrees on how to proceed past the current quagmire of monetary values dominating all else, and a moral passivity having settled over our people. Thus, to my mind, the first task is to become clear in your mind on what you desire; simply saying “I want this to burn” or “I don’t want this population living among us” is not enough, as that is not a direction but a complaint. What makes more sense is to understand, on whatever level you philosophize, what sort of thing you would desire. In other words, for everything that sucks, there are untold numbers of possible ways around it. This isn’t to bleat “Invent something new!” like the most hopeless of the disenchanted, but to suggest that if you want change in the world, make it in yourself first.
To look at the situation analytically, not much has changed since the birth of humanity. We are on this planet as one species of many, and our goal is to find a life for ourselves in balance with our environment that delivers some kind of meaning, as we alone among the species, apparently, have the ability for long-term reasoning and thus can envision our own deaths and thus demand something of “meaning” from life: something so significant it balances out the prospect of not being for all time after our deaths. It’s not enough to think of death as being in a lightless room; one is not even present to observe the lightless room. One is simply, like unicorns or the tooth fairy, not there. A good nihilist understands as the basis of his or her philosophy that recognizing death is to recognize life, as anything not death is at least the ground of life. Defining those slippery terms “meaning” and “significant” of course become difficult.
However, there is an easy way around this one. We are what we have experienced, both through genetics and personally living through situations, so we apply our minds to these memories and find we like some more than others. What made those important? — especially in the context of eternal nothingness. When one looks at life from the prospect of eternity, the movies we watch, the fancy cars we drive, the homes we own and the video games we play are second to the moments of significance, or moments that made us feel most alive. For me, those moments include time among friends and family, great epiphanies of learning, hours spent wandering in the forest and any activity in which I have made something better for those around me.
To recognize nothingness is to realize that nothing endures permanently, and there are no absolutes to cling to, thus what matters is entirely “subjective,” but paradoxically, this subjective is objectively defined: because our world is consistent, the same values apply to all who are in human form, whether or not they recognize them. Some will wittily say that since value is subjective, they believe that playing video games or shooting heroin is the most important (to them), and therefore that is an absolute right. This is poor thinking, if we look at life’s consistency, in that we see that it rewards the same general types of activity: building a home and having family and friends and a culture of learning around you will always be rewarding, where shooting heroin will always lead to evasion of reality. Life is real, and when we mature enough to get over the subjective/objective split, we see that while we define our own meaning, that definition is entirely shaped by our environment. Thus we dispatch with the triviality of personal preference as “subjective meaning.”
Our world rewards abstract achievement in the same way it rewards physical achievement. If you are alone in the forest, you must find food and shelter, maybe warmth, and do it before night overtakes you and ice forms on your limbs, dragging you into the heroin-like warmth of hypothermia. Similarly, in your mind you must find sustenance and peace, maybe even joy, before boredom and depression carry you off to the land of catatonia or suicide. This is what we mean by spiritually healthy, and having recognized the fallacy of “subjective meaning” for what it is, we can see that spiritual health is a universal thing among all living beings of a human intelligence level. Not all individuals will see it, but many of these people will either be incapable or so destroyed they cannot, and thus, why trouble them with it? Death is all that remains for them, even if in the living form of an existence so boring and eventless that television is, like, a really cool thing.
Of course, weakness is among us; when the last ice age ended and the people who had been brave enough to endure the ice left their caves and came south, our modern political time began, and immediately the decay set in. Among those who were then, there were some who were so afraid that they would be judged inferior that they set upon us a morality of utilitarianism, by which the individual as abstract concept was so rigorously protected that society as a whole was paralyzed, since to make any choice meant leaving some individuals behind, to rigid death in living form. There was so much fear of personal ability in some that they demanded society sacrifice itself for their needs, much as a drowning man will in panic drag down his rescuers, and over time, since such behavior was encouraged, more people came about who followed such a pattern. This utilitarianism is the root of all modern error, including democracy, equality, free enterprise and the idea that it’s OK to cut down an ancient forest if the mall that replaces it brings someone profit. This is the triumph of the weak.
Those who have these beliefs are weak not in a physical sense, but in a spiritual sense: they are of such low-self esteem, and thus afraid they can do nothing to balance death, that they would drag all of us down to a lowest common denominator rather than risk one of them being seen as less-capable, less-desirable, and therefore less externally important than others. This occurs because if one is inwardly lacking confidence, external affirmation is all one has; this kind of weakness causes them to insist on the individual as beyond criticism, because that way whatever they fear in themselves will not bring them censure, and thus to condemn us all to being part of a mob: a group of granular individuals committed to not doing anything to upset each other, thus incapable of selecting a goal. In short, the mob forces us to serve the aberrant. This is the situation a modern dissident encounters.
It is tempting to pick an issue and to begin fighting for that, hoping to stave off the doom. Unfortunately, doom has many heads and one body, thus to slay a head may delay the onset of collapse, but it cannot stop it; the only thing that can stop the destruction is to find something to replace it that is not destructive. For this reason, jumping onto extreme right or left bandwagons, or running into the arms of religion or some universal good like “I believe in love,” is destined to failure. You cannot stop the downfall of a civilization by banning corporations, or by writing more equality legislation, or by murdering all of an ethnic group, or by legalizing marijuana. You have to fix the design of the outlook and worldview of the civilization so that you replace the root of its behavior with something more positive.
In my view, the first step to this is cultivating a spiritual peace in oneself, but there is a pitfall here, which will be explained in a minute. Spiritual peace gives you the state of mind to make real structural change to your world. If you are hysterical, or depressed, or out-of-control angry, you will not accomplish change, although you may accomplish revolutionary acts. Look at the nature of revolutions: they transfer power from an existing structure to that which claims to be its antithesis, but they use the same mechanisms of control and organization as the past system, thus while they may delay the collapse, they don’t prevent it. In the meantime, fighting for control results in the deaths of many of the best people in the society. For this reason, it seems to me that revolutions are just highly-organized temper tantrums. They do not accomplish structural change.
Spiritual peace allows you to organize your own mind (and perhaps, soul) so that you know exactly what values you must have, and you can apply these with patience and diligence. Instead of running up to a head of the beast and slapping it, you are instead working on the ground beneath the body, gradually changing it so that it rewards something different, thus making the body of the beast obsolete. Spiritual peace means that you organize your own thoughts and emotions so they do not obstruct you, but also so that you may instead of focusing on your enemies, who are many, focus on the single and unique thing that you desire, which is your goal. Cultivate the ground of your goal and you make your enemies, who by being defined as anyone who opposes your goal, are infinite in potential number, less relevant. They will go elsewhere, or perish in the forest — it doesn’t matter to you. What matters is the goal.
Spiritual peace will also help you avoid self-destructing. If you are raging about in anger or confusion or depression, most of your energy will be dissipated, and your enemies will laugh at your ineffectual tantrums. If instead, secure and self-confident in what you want and how to achieve it, you move methodically and joyfully, you take pride in your accomplishments and realize what you are doing is not the product of an alienation from the world, but a love for it. You are not destroying, but sculpting, taking away some here and adding some there, making a new shape out of reality that you would like to eventually predominate. When you have achieved this shape in yourself, it is second nature to apply it externally, and you do it without thinking — in everything that you do.
When I look at the youth of the Indo-European tribe at this time, I see either people who are glum and pragmatic, having accepted that they’re beaten and thus turning to serve, and then an opposite extreme. This opposite extreme consists in those who recognize that fatality of our current direction, but because it upsets them, they are ineffective in opposing it and their enemies laugh at them. One might guess that there was laughter at Jim Morrison’s suicide, or Timothy McVeigh’s execution, or even the Unabomber going to jail. This laughter is cruel and full of revenge, and it comes from those who have already given in to the weakness and thus lack self-confidence, and fear change, even if change to something which has been eternally true in every “subjective” interpretation. Only success matters. When you have a goal, anything that is not the goal is an enemy, but you no longer see your enemies as controlling your life; they are like wrong paths taken through a forest, namely, they are ignored when you know the right path.
There is a pitfall to spiritual peace, and we see it in what is left of the great religions of Asia and in Christianity, both of which are broken interpretations of the original Vedic truth concocted in India many millennia ago. Spiritual peace does not mean passivity. Passivity is when you believe that life is beyond your control, and that vast forces manipulate it, and that you should not take action outside of yourself, because your only goal is cultivating spiritual peace. If that really is your only goal, I suggest heroin: it is a superior agent for that changeless, careless state. To my mind, the only reason to cultivate spiritual peace is to be able to act, because we are the only agents that will act in this world; the universe is beyond time and does not intervene to save us or destroy us, but if it does view us, would view us as a colony of ants — an interesting observation in the afternoon sun of a summer weekend.
This pitfall of passivity is common all around you. People who see nothing but the ego can be either vicious corporate barons replacing forests with shopping malls, or Buddhists meditating on their navels and unable to change the world except to protest the deaths of dissidents. This is error. We are here to change the world, and if we do it according to the principles of the world, good things will result; if not, we perish, and the universe goes on without shedding a tear for us. Spiritual peace means peace of mind, not being so “peaceful” you are afraid to force change upon the world, even if it offends others or costs them their livelihoods or lives. Do what is right for the whole. Only when you have inner spiritual peace will you have the confidence to do this.
Monday, January 24th, 2005
A wholesale discount store provides a good way to observe the winners in this society. Obviously, most items are made by giant corporations far from wherever you buy them; equally obviously, since the quality doesn’t vary wherever you buy them, it’s important to get them cheaply. Further, any idiot who was half-awake in high school can tell you that with economies of scale in action, the more you buy, the cheaper it will be. Hence businesses arise that, for a single yearly fee, will gain you access to a giant no-frills shopping barn where you can haul home as much stuff as your credit card will handle.
They’re always full. After all, food, candy, clothing, DVDs and furniture are available at 2/3 of the normal cost. Where you’d buy three bars of soap, you can now get twenty, for a significant discount. Of course, most of these items are stocked according to the convenience of the retailer, usually through exclusive contracts with giant suppliers by which the wholesaler buys up cheaply whatever the manufacturer made too many of this last gift-giving season, or is about to phase out of existence. But it’s cheap, and you can get your sweaty hands on it quickly and drag the damn thing home to keep you occupied and safely in denial of mortality for a few weeks until you tire of it, and send it to the landfill with everything else.
Of course, there’s a split among thinking people. Some tend to view society in religious terms, and see it as a kind of evil, thus they avoid it whenever they can and end up living in penury. These types buy the three bars of soap for a higher price and walk home muttering how glad they are that at least they didn’t have to waste any time in Wal-Mart, because that place is the dregs of humanities. The others, perhaps being of a more pragmatic nature, or simply a more acquiescent one, get corporate jobs and join the discount clubs so they can get good wines at 10% above cost, have access to the best meats and, hey, the complete Star Trek on DVD, and it’s only forty bucks. Good deal.
At one of these places recently, I was forced into the unorthodox but necessary role of standing on the edge of its exit path, where one has just slid the credit card, written the legal signature and now has a cart piled high with things wrapped in plastic to take home to the wife and kids, or pornography and cat, as the case seems to be for most people. I am not a weird-looking dude, but I seem to radiate some kind of awareness that disturbs most people and, as this is amusing, whenever I’m in one of these situations I find a need to observe for my own amusement. It is not that I scorn other people, or hate them or love them, because these universal terms that apply without any boundaries to their logic are generally bad news, as far as intellect is concerned, but I take advantage of the university worth of learning before me: observing people in their native habitat reveals more than all the opinion polls, votes, person-on-the-street interviews and talk shows in the universe.
Like a rock midstream, I watched people pass around me; these were the people who knew enough to get memberships to discount wholesale stores and thus get goods cheaply, thus saving money and getting ahead in this society: they are our future leaders. My observations were twofold: first, these people had a certain uniformity to them, although on the outside they were not identical or even close; second, this uniformity revealed something of how we have arrived at a state of this degree of degeneration, as a civilization, and where else this has happened. From this I was able to piece together some wisdom of the ancients with learning from modern sources, and formulate a plan for reversing this process of slowly descending into uniformity.
First, we look at the people: they pass, heads down or averted from the gaze of an observer (Mr. Heisenberg, your tea is ready), in an uneven gait as often as not created by health problems including a fatness that is functional; it’s not obesity, but they’re not slender, either: they have extra weight strapped around them like a suicide bomber’s belt. When this is observed, it becomes clear why so many people die of hideous cancers, arterial clotting, or colonic obstruction; they are not healthy people in any sense of the word. While some have strength, it is unevenly distributed; those who specialize in activities of the mind are either quite fat or quite thin, and usually have personal habits that would disgust a weasel. None reveal consistent stressful exercise, although in theory all these winners are “working hard” at their important jobs.
Anyone of distinctive appearance or physical health stands out like a sore thumb. The crowd height is a fraction over five feet, with a few here and there who poke out above the surging mass. Only a handful are not dark-haired. Very few have a clear, focused look to their faces, or would sustain eye contact. Before this article seems like a polemic about racial issues, let it be clear that it is not, although it includes mention of race: these people have no traits which claim a clean lineage to any race. They are not attractive in any race. In fact, race is one trait they seem to lack: Of those that are not clearly Indo-European, the majority have some heritage borrowed from all three race. Extreme dark skin was rare, as was extreme light skin; these were mostly tan, with brown eyes and curly but loose-flowing hair.
They often wheeze at the effort of walking more than forty feet, which isn’t surprising considering that their diet appears to be high in greasy snack foods packaged in plastic. They are physically puny, meaning they have no grace and no athletic strength, even though some may be strong. It is an absurd situation. They are absurd remnants of once great things. This leads to our first observation, which is that, much as chicken and sheep and corn have been domesticated, and thus changed into inoffensive and functional versions of themselves that cannot exist outside of society’s need, these people have been domesticated. They are at home in their element: they would be completely useless if they had to hunt, fish or cultivate earth for a living. They might eventually figure it out, but never to any great success.
These are domesticated people. They are literally products of their society, and are content in this role. Even their form factor fits this description, since they are of average height, weight and health. Although they’re not leaders, clearly they all have jobs and make money, which they’re spending here. But these aren’t the kind of people who head off into uncharted waters and found civilizations through the dual means of military prowess and creative instinct. These are people who buy stuff, consume it, and then make the difficult decision of what to watch on cable before passing out. Without our society, they would not exist. Without our wholesale discount stores, it’s doubtful they could survive. Humanity existed before them, and degenerated, and they are the product – the proof and expiation. This was the first revelation.
Second, what hit my mind was this: many times before, this process has occurred. Great civilizations were formed and then at some point turned on themselves, forcing their people to conform to such a lowest common denominator average that soon they, too, were lumpy, runty, undistinguished types like these. There were a few tall people, and healthy people, among the crowd, but most were from generations gone by in America, and they were looking less lost than others but also vastly out of place. This isn’t their time. They are obsolete. Every great civilization has gone from a period of being leaders and builders to a time of no consensus, and no goal, out of which comes such average people.
Modern generic domesticated human is a great animal. Put it in a city, and it will find a job, and consider itself smart for having a “good” one such that it can afford lots of plastic. It generates income for industry, even paying huge amounts for retirement. You can count on it to make the lowest common denominator decision every time; put fresh vegetables next to bulk snack food, and it will buy the snack food, which costs less to produce and thus has a higher profit margin. Introduce some “new” gadget or fad and the cowlike masses will buy it, and think they’re clever for being so “in” with what’s “hip.” Best of all, they never ask any serious existential or larger-issues questions, thus are equally prone to watch TV instead of seeking value and, while they all have political opinions, never cross the taboo line of suggesting that society has gone astray.
When I realized this, I thought of all the ruined empires I’ve seen, and read about, and what the people who were left over looked like. Very similar: a muddle of fixtures, a confusion of impulses, a lack of any real goal except to exist as comfortably as possible in a civilization that occurred outside of their control. At this point, my mind strayed to something I had read in a book about Indian mysticism. In it, a yogin described the process of meditation as letting go of one’s self identity, and realizing that one is a game piece manipulated from within by “supernatural forces.” When I read this, it repulsed me at first, because I like most Westerners associate the supernatural with gods in the sky, strange moral laws and sheeplike consciences.
Recalling that surging crowd, however, I realized that “supernatural” has another meaning: mathematics. Our inward forces respond to opportunity and boundary, and thus form a simple kind of logic, by which we predictably respond to our government. Who would, for example, give up a comfy modern life to go live in an ice age cave? And when confronted with a broken society, those who do not object and thus run the risk of self-destruction or crowd disapproval will by their nature opt for decisions that please the most people. This means not taking controversial stands, and finding the best products at the best price. This is how they breed themselves into this runty, undistinguished mass: they give up on nature and replace it with a values system where image is more important than reality, thus it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and soon reality is five feet tall and mediocre in health, strength, intelligence and character.
This second revelation hit like a brick. We are literally breeding ourselves into the same dumb livestock that we exploit for all that cheap milk, cheese and meat you can get at discount wholesale stores. Is there a solution? It rests in the revelation of mathematics: like a supernatural force, mathematics works from within, or without our conscious awareness of a motivation. The current math is that our society rewards inoffensiveness and obedience. If our values change, that changes; if people start respecting only great character and deeds, and shun the others as products of a failed civilization, then we resurrect our breeding toward higher states and not lower ones (although this might bankrupt junk food manufacturers, midget porners, fast food establishments and hemorrhoid specialists). My goal with these columns, and everything I do, is changing of that values, because I have now seen both the heights – the heroic, idealistic, natural humankind – and the lows, namely the crowd of runts, and I know which outcome I prefer for myself and my world.
I was explaining, perhaps, how the end comes not like a roaring demon over the horizon, but soft as a morning mist until it is among you, tantalizing with its sweet smell so that none are awake to the blindness until it is not only too late to see, but to counteract the poison. Indeed, poison that tastes like death is useless, because none will take it except at the point of a sword, and at that moment, you might as well run them through, since a grimacing corpse never looks like it died in its sleep peacefully. But poison kills while you are sleeping, or at the moment when in the grips of hallucinations you fight to awake and see around you what has changed, and die in the agony of realization.
Crowds love decoration. It is like painting an old and rotting house so you can sell it to the clueless young couples from the cities: hide the rotting frame, paint over the cracks in the foundation, tie plastic around the leaking pipes so everything holds together just long enough for the ink to dry on the contract, at which point it is not your problem. Similarly there is nothing offensive about decoration. The insides are hidden, including the churning gaseous gut, and what is left is a pleasant situation in which things can be done abstractly, as if in a heavenly place entirely removed from reality, a perfect space. X will deliver Y on time, and be paid $Z. It is so crisp and logical, so apart from the smears of bodily fluids and last gurglings and wheezings of the bedridden elderly patient that we try to keep out of our minds so we can function, as death like a moth trapped in the lantern of our eyes flits about the flame and throws shadows on the wall.
Among the crowd, you will see few blondes, but plenty of dyed blond hair. Face-lifts, tummy tucks, esophageal constrictions and painted nails. Perfumes to keep away those ghastly digestive smells, and the stench of sweat when one is creeping back from the house of a sudden lover in the early morning. Shouldn’t have, didn’t mean to, but who will know? Appearance is distinct from reality. Keep working the job and you can pay for the personal trainer, the special medicines to obscure whatever your personal deformation is, whether impotence or dandruff or halitosis or schizophrenia. Most of all keep smiling at everyone, and the crowd will love you. Mention only the positive; it won’t do to speak of death. Of all things on earth, the crowd loves pleasant-tasting poison the most.
Go to a movie. You will not see an ancient Greek tragedy, because that brings you closer to the mortal span and any discussion of its meaning, which could mean you feel you fall short and wonder what dead-end hall will be your last memories. Instead, you will see a catharsis of illusion, whereby you fall into empathy with characters far removed from your own life and live out their triumphs, their victories, their submission and ultimately their return to normal life, just like yours, except shining in gold and covered at every step by the cameras of the paparazzi. For two glorious hours, you were not thinking about the nagging husband, or the tepid job, or the dentist’s appointment lurking like a hired killer around the corner on next Wednesday; you were thinking about these magic people, in their perfectly dramatic lives, so full of meaning and finally, contentment, or at least some ending that exudes meaning with every ion. She got the man of her dreams, he took the ball team to the pennant and won against all odds, the good guys won for once.
If not a movie, try some drugs. We have pills to bring you up, or bring you down if you want to slow down and touch life from an insulated safari car. Or would the gentleman prefer hallucinations? It’s all about you, kid, just like for everyone else, it’s all about them. Take your choice, put down your money, and be on your way – time is money and I don’t have all day. For those who are wealthy, there are vacations in far-off lands, or lives spent making a 0.00001% difference in the life of one miserable village like ten million others, not of practical value but it feels good. Otherwise, you can get into sports, and when you win, can feel as if God Himself put you above others; if you’re really broke, there’s television, which is like a cheap movie repeating in half-hour segments. Cry with the golden people; laugh with them, celebrate their lives and enjoy the time apart from your own. This is what the crowd wants.
There is a subtle mathematics to this, also. Each motion in life takes the path of least resistance, as this leads inevitably to some kind of open space. When there are no great dragons to slay, no great cities to found, and nothing left to learn except small increments of what we already know, you might as well look toward comfort. Thus each individual in the crowd, acting independently, seeks out what might fill the void of knowledge of eventual death, if even for two hours. Have a nice apartment, some interesting lovers, friends who never forget your birthday. There’s a video game system in the corner, next to the DVD player and the computer; the world at your fingers, ready for your whim. The mathematics of the crowd is formed by each individual seeking a world of its own, and thus creating an idealized, averaged concept of person which erects rigid boundaries around whatever choices an individual can make, such that all are beyond criticism. This way, we’re all safe from each other.
It is almost undefinable, the attitude of these crowds. Their math is the rise and fall of empires, and within it, the things an individual might value based on choices available. When society is new, and the first trees are falling to build the first shelters, and there are still wolves which at night carry off the unwary, those who survive are those who can make the choice to plan ahead, to do what is important in the long term. They have no choice about that situation; it is what they must endure or be consumed. When there have already been generations of those who have gone before, the choices to be made reflect options within the framework of civilization: how do I make my workers harvest more, or convince the king to fund a bridge, or barter for the yeast that makes lush bread? Even further along, the options are both greater and smaller: civilization has not only become self-referential, but it has lost its frontier, and lost its big open spaces, so you take what’s left.
This means fighting over the wealth, and the positions of power that are, not creating new power either within through self-discipline, or without by creating new civilizations, new ideas to conquer space and time. The crowd surges ahead; they demand that anyone can be whatever he or she wants to be, because in the mathematics of the situation, any position requires no special skills, but going through the motions. Appearance dominates over reality, as it becomes more important to convince others of something and have them buy it than to make something effective in its own right; it is the age of marketers, of travelling salesman and carpet-bag-toting investors. The civilization has nowhere to go so expands in every direction, each individual in the crowd taking his own due, and although smiling in public, scorning the rest in private and thus leaving nothing for the rest. Gods are worshipped for the divine power of the crowd, as a holy man is trusted by all. It is twilight for the supernatural figures, and for the forest: Buddha goes to meditate at his bodhi tree and finds it cut down. Jesus descends the cross to write his memoirs, joins a rock band and is never heard from again.
The time that is described here is the time in which I observed a crowd of people streaming out of a discount wholesale chain of stores, where membership is required to keep one well behaved, and all the rules are clearly stated on small plastic signs because, since there is no agreement on ideal behavior, they cannot be intuited and are not shared. The crowd are united by having nothing in common. The attitude they have is undefinable, because it is not so much a strong belief as an absence of any. They are there to claim their due. In this they insist, strongly, but it is not belief so much as pragmatic and the convenience of convention that drives them to this rigid rule. Rights are more important than cooperation. Money leads all other values, which in order to compete market themselves, and thus by the mathematics of finding commonality, become more like all other values until none have any distinct value, and all perish.
In the cities and towns, the wisdom of success prevails. There is no forward direction: take what it is here. All the pretty girls marry rich toads with big cars and go off to the cities to have half-ugly babies, and all the geniuses write epic poetry which is burned with their belongings in forgotten attics long after they have suicided, or taken too many drugs to notice that truck already an hour late on its shift barrelling down the boulevard. If a classical hero, or great thinker, emerged in such a society, that person would head for a small cabin in Montana or perhaps, bowing to the inevitable and pragmatic, simply get a job and dismiss those thoughts which once raced with inspiration through an active mind as phantasms of the brain, stimulated by inferior takeout food at lunch – call the credit company for refund. There is a profound absence in them, of any striving or any satiation in achievement, since what they have to conquer is so long defined even its tedium is forgotten, and thus the only question is one of comfort and withdrawl from the mess, not a desire to organize the chaos formed from abstract definitions of a universal nature applied in non-universal, specific situations whose uniqueness is of no concern to those who file forms, purchase orders, stock certificates and arrest warrants.
This is mathematics. Much as the death of someone who has lived a century is the information science of cell death and interdependent organ systems failing in sequence, the death of a civilization is the number patterning of people slowly learning not to give a huff about anything beyond their immediate gratification. With each generation, the tumblers of the great cash register slowly approach the zone of total unchanging numerics; each birth cycle brings a lower intelligence, fewer noble traits, and less desire to climb to the heavens. Those are obsolete desires. What is needed now is people who understand what is and adapt to it, domesticated, and thus can see that a discount club provides the best value, and therefore get the credit cards and membership, and all the best consumer goods so their comfort is superior to the rest. Despite its hollowness, this effort is what they call their pride. Calculate the odds, and the math rewards them doing so, since no one person can reverse the course of inertia, or can it be done? To even take that gamble is to forsake stability and convenience, to doom oneself to a hard life and a lonely one, since no one wants to befriend someone going nowhere in the world of dollars and products.
It is also mathematics that something great must change this society, such that the rules of survival alter themselves greatly, and the remaining population can spend 10,000 years surviving an ongoing cataclysm, so that only those who see far into the future and plan accordingly will pass along their genes. The climate, destabilized by clouds of smoke from machines and bargeloads of waste from every corner of every city, finally gives way, and ice covers the earth. Death reigns upon the unwary. Those who are left retreat to caves, and find new gods who can give them strength to endure hardships that last beyond the individual life, working for goals they will not live to see gained. This is why all great cultures have a Ragnarok mythos, and why the crowd is so frenetic: their urgency conveys an inarticulable fear, as indefinable as the absence of heroism among them, that lurks in the subconscious, reminding them that death is real and, like the inevitable end for all they know, as mathematical as their own ambitionless lust for comfort.
The great mystery, in the ashes of any civilization, is how it fell, since we can see its works and their might. How could a race of such strong beings succumb, and how did it happen? — our minds relive every betrayal, every night of burning cities, every lonely suicide by one of the few who saw the collapse imminent. To understand the process of a civilization dying, we must understand how people move from an inward strength to an outer one, and how it thus shapes them to lack the direction needed to put great strength in the right place, and therefore, lays before them the poison of their doom.
When there is consensus, one can point to an idea or deed and say, “It does fulfill that which we together value, thus it is great,” and have others agree. All are unified toward a goal. This goal may not be a tangible thing, nor an immediate one, but in every mind there is an image of it, like a golden idol or holy scripture. When this goal disappears, like the sword of Damocles hovering above open ocean, with it goes the ability to esteem any deed as beneficial to the whole culture, and the focus of people in that culture turns to themselves, and ways they can use a public image of self to “prove” the worthiness of self; deeds become secondary to a construct of the individual. In this way crowds are formed, which seems a paradox in that crowds have one will while the individual has one, but it becomes clear that a crowd exists when there is no agreement except a common confusion, and what arises of it is the simplest thing upon which all can agree. Since all are individuals, this agreement is shallow at best.
In place of a universal collective good, the crowd seeks universal absolutes, and thus begins to construct an ideal in its image, whether a God or a set of laws and customs which respect an idealized, average individual, and erect rigid boundaries across which none other may cross, protecting each individual from criticism or assessment of failure, using that ideal defined by boundaries and not desires for achievement. It is a subtle sleight of hand, but an important one, as now the individual defines himself or herself not by what is possible, but by what is possessed, and not by what is internal, but by what can be recognized by all others in the crowd. It is a humbling position, through which one receives a sense of self, by showing the group an image and with their approval, claiming it as one’s own. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and thus the humility undertaken internally is reversed in an external persona that is assertive, combative and most of all, selfish.
Why would one do anything for the collective, after all, when the collective is so disorganized and demanding that it must be shown something pleasing to approve the individual? Those who speak too much truth are dismissed; they have violated one part of the Absolute rule which states the importance of never making another appear to be diminished, unless of course they have violated the rule, and thus preserves the crowd as individuals. This trap is brilliant in its simplicity, in that where working together the crowd could have everything they desire, instead they work against each other and claim the balance established as a form of collaboration, meaning that simple tasks which could be done with quickly, leaving the day for the individual to develop, instead take far longer because of the complexities of interlocking webs of absolute demands and the conflicts they progenerate. In this realization, the individual sees the crowd as necessary but not an ally, and thus it is every man for himself: the individual combats the world as whole in order to make a pile of money and haul it off to an untouchable lair, promoting a paranoia and distrust of all others, who are trying to do the same thing regardless of who or what it destroys.
In such a society, rules are more important than reality, because rules represent collective consent where reality is visible in varying degrees to those who can see it. For this reason, if one points to reality and says, “Isn’t it obvious?” there will be some in the crowd who do not see it, and will be alienated and will take their business elsewhere, fracturing the crowd’s single will, and this is the one thing a crowd fears. For this reason, rules are absolute, and breaking them equates to exile from the crowd. Those who are exiles are, of course, likely to act outside the will of the crowd, and thus are commonly crushed – either by the sword, as Christians do, or by public ridicule and the corresponding inability to get decent-paying work, relegating them to the permanent underclass that feeds the machines with its bodies. A person from this society, when asked what is real, does not observe, but consults a reference work; if something is known to have been against the rules in the past, it is categorized apart from all things considered possible. Further, anything which ends an individual world is a tragedy, thus except under extreme and heavily-justified, usually with mountains of paperwork and public proceeding, circumstances, any life lost is a tragedy that threatens the crowd by illustrating to each individual how fragile they are, and how anything better than them could easily destroy them.
This realization spurs crowds toward revenge, proactive revenge and neutralization, of anything which could possibly rise above the mass. It is well and good to succeed in ways permitted by rule, because everyone knows it is a matter of following rules and persistence and thus means nothing of the inner spirit, and therefore cannot place one person above another. However, to rise in strength or character outside of that approved by the crowd is to reveal the impotence of crowds, and thus is a hanging offense in crowds throughout the universe. There is no sense of cooperation or reverence; the individual is king, and through the abstract concept of the individual as boundaries none may criticize, the crowd is composed of individuals, who wield its passive and subtle revenge through civility, through commerce, and through endless labyrinthine bureaucratic government designed to confound anyone who values his time and experience more than his money and standing with the paper-pushers. In the ways prescribed by rule, all compete against all others; none work together, except as means of getting ahead for themselves, and the community as a whole is viewed as a substrate from which the individual may take so that it can recede to safe haven with profit removed from the ongoing cycle of social growth.
To keep this system maintaing itself, crowds institute a form of Ponzi scheme, by which those who pay now support those who bought in years ago, and those who are now making money are doing it by bringing more people into the crowd and forcing them also to bear the yoke of industrial labor. Each works for his or her own gain, and thinks not of the whole, thus even when facing a situation that will end bad, says glibly, “Not in my lifetime!” and runs off with whatever wealth has accrued, thankful to be out of a system that pits each against all. Since this goal is shared among all, it is used as a means of assessing other people, which is the only such assessment permitted by rule. What is being measured is not internal to a person, but something they possess, and thus to keep up the illusion of respecting the individual, the crowd invents self-image. It is an external construct designed to represent the individual, and it is composed of both things one owns and things one does or claims to value, a social avatar composed of static achievement. As individuals see themselves in terms of this external self, inside they are not very secure, and thus they work harder to affirm the external as a means of compensation, even though this only increases their insecurity.
Low self-esteem of this widespread and pervasive sort motivates people to do what they can to enhance their external image. They do this through highly visible but not necessarily effective acts, especially those which show humility and thus make them appealing to each member of the crowd; they love to help the less fortunate, to show how much wealthy they possess and therefore, how much humility they can afford. They play games with this external ego, taking pride in having said a witty thing that showed another to be in the wrong, according to the Absolute rules of the social game, or in owning something that few others have, or in being able to claim membership in elites or a position of power in the social hierarchy: all of this has nothing to do with the person within, and screams “I am important, because the crowd approves of what I do!” – forgetting of course that the memory of the crowd is shorter than that of a hungry dog.
In life, only one person ever faces mortality, and that is the individual; the crowd does not, and no degree of external approbation will stop the unstoppable descent of death. To compensate, a form of cognitive dissonance of existential self-justification, the individual works harder to glorify the self in image; image is safe, as it can be “objectively” shared with the crowd, where qualitative measurements such as inner strength and degree to which a job is done well are only known to those with the brains and attention span to see it (imagine Arthur Schopenhauer trying to explain the importance of philosophy to a moron). The building up of external self is an addiction that never ends, as each time it is built the internal doubt increases proportionately, until the individual faces death with open eyes for a mere moment, and in a howl of terror rushes back to the tangible: those things the entire crowd can see and agree exist, and even place a value on which they swear is above that of death. Through this collective denial of mortality, ease of heart is achieved, since somewhere in even the dumber people is the awareness that their lives are being spent for others, on tasks that require less time to complete, in lieu of developing the self and fulfilling some kind of destiny.
Disorganization such as this has no route but collapse, as all the great civilizations have done, leaving behind both ruins and people with some of the abilities of the old, but none of the inner wisdom. In our current civilization, we have tried to unify the world, figuring that if we are all in it together, it won’t collapse, and if it does, none will escape to be victors over our graves. But who is to say this hasn’t happened before? If even 50,000 years ago a civilization as advanced in technology as ours existed, and then passed into a time when there was noone to keep the power plants working, maintain the computers and read the books in the library, its artifacts would not exist at this time: the ages would reduce them to dust and the mingling of tongues obliterate their memory. Maybe that civilization found out, as ours is about to, that all external resources are finite; there is only so much land, so much oil, so many fish in the sea, and as we grow, we reduce those amounts daily.
We are killing all of the things with inward strength, things that self-renew like forests and wild species. To kill them, we do not need to kill all of the individuals, but only to destroy enough of them that those remaining have few breeding options and thus the pretty girls get carried off by ugly rich men and the geniuses die alone. When they collapse, and our civilization falls apart in chaos or into third world disorder, it will be unable to sustain itself if a climactic shift, such as an ice age, comes. This will lay the groundwork for the mystery of its collapse, as those who maintain the great works from earlier times will probably not leave notes to that effect, but will steal anything they can eat and then die as well after the easy ways of survival are covered under ice and ruins. Much like humans, civilizations dying of old age do so slowly, with the end being as anticlimactic as the realization that death, also, is mundane.
My advice to those who have read this far, and have enough clear sight in their souls to resolve in their inner being the will to live on even if they will not personally reap the results, is to head to the north. In the lands of ice it is not easy to live, but it is easy to hide from the rampaging southerners who, seeing death written upon the wall, will attempt to gain temporary immortality by revenge on those who have done better. Among the icy caves of the north, shelter can be found, and survival had by those who are both crafty and of inner strength enough to see the long-term plan without cares for personal gratification at the expense of it. It is like a filter, this arctic time, which admits only those who have faith in life and have overcome their external self-image enough to see reality for what it is: an ongoing process, in which we are but actors. Memorize Beethoven, and memorize the Eddas and Rig Veda, so that in the future we may have some of a past that is otherwise destined to be lost in the passage of failed civilizations.
Friday, January 21st, 2005
You can tell the fan’s about to get messy when delusion prevails, and inward strength is seen as a distant second to showy displays of public importance. The latter is how you get a room full of people who barely know you, and don’t really care, to think you’re doing something “good” – but because they don’t care, their praise is as insincere as their condemnation, and neither lasts long in that kind of attention span. The result of this psychological chaos however: I’m surrounded by dysfunctional people.
I enjoy my friends. They come in different stripes. They are my friends because on the whole, they’re genuine to the best of their ability – after all, they grew up in dysfunctional families, their friends are dysfunctional, and the people they work with – throw up your hands – are not only dysfunctional, but forced upon them by the nature of commerce. You can’t refuse to work with Susie because she’s a nutcase unless she makes some show display of public nutcase behavior, which for a society this “tolerant” means she has to shoot someone, or finger-paint Dada murals in her own feces on the boardroom wall.
Basic insanity thus goes unrecognized. Similar, inner strength and force of will are ignored; people turn noses away and say, knowingly, “He’s so boring!” – they are speaking of a great guru, philosopher or artist, who prefers logic and passion to drama, and therefore provides little of interesting gossip except when, after a brief bout of success, he finds it just as hollow and begins self-destructing in Morrisonian ecstasy. Let’s walk through an average office – perhaps one of my clients, perhaps a phantasm of the brain – and see some of the exciting dysfunctional people out there; it’s not Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but perhaps his analysis couch, or his book of diagnoses.
First, we come to superman here in his office; Stan he runs our network, or maybe he’s our product director, but what makes him important around the office is his raw skill and can-do attitude. He never says no to any project, and he’ll knock himself out for a job. Of course, because he never says no to any project, he’s always on a project, and will have to look at yours later; because he heroically stayed up all night and slayed the dragon incarnate of the latest spreadsheet, he’s out of work on Monday and Tuesday he’s still bewildered. But he is superman, so he’ll never say no, even if he’s six months behind on everything. Luckily, he can respond to crisis, so if you run in and tell him that something is on fire, he’ll put the fire out. However, he doesn’t notice any of the smaller issues that keep the firm running, and therefore, there’s always something on fire.
Stan likes feeling needed. Superman of all things needs an audience, much like God needs you to pray for him so he can save kittens from Satan. He likes being important, thus is always busy and always late, so there’s always people coming in to talk to him. What protects him is his chest of steel, behind which he cowers; he takes a linear-rational approach to reality and so defines himself in strict logical terms. If you point out to him that the latest car your company produced does not have a steering wheel, he’ll cheerfully point out that it’s still a car and got completed on time. If the network goes down because no one replaced the one hard drive that contains all of its routing tables, he will tell you with a smile that the backup system failed last month and he’s waiting to replace it, but he’s been putting out fires, and so he has been so busy, he just hasn’t had a chance to make sure the company is functional. I have come to distrust “busy” people.
There are other needy people. Down the hall is Sara; she handles our billing. Sara likes to point out exactly where you are in error regarding regulation 4261. What’s that, you ask? It specifies that you must put your birthdate on every form 8714-A. But you know my birthdate! You say. “Well, I thought you’d like to know,” she says. Sara, like superman, doesn’t mean badly, but she is so focused on details that she often misses the point completely. She is thus a classic bureaucrat. If you come in to her office confused because your paycheck disappeared, she will explain very carefully that because you did not file form 8968 on time, they have no registered bank account in your name.
But what about the one they were using? Well, regulations say we have to get a new listing on that form, so I’m very sorry you’re out of money now, and we can get you a check within two weeks, although that is probably after your rent, car payment, credit card bill and student loan repayment have bounced. Sara cannot connect the goddamn dots enough to realize that every employee needs the check to go, on time, to some place they can access it, or so she’ll tell you. The truth is that she doesn’t care; Sara likes being important, and because she focuses on details, she cannot grasp the larger picture, usually because it threatens her in some way (“OMG you mean civilization is collapsing? I…I… chocolate!”). For this reason she hides behind “not having seen” or “not having noticed” the fact that, while all the forms were filed correctly, the process as a whole is broken. I have come to distrust people who are so detail-oriented they cannot notice the outline of the dots on the page.
Keep on going down the hall. Now we come to the room where the people who do the “real work” are. These are programmers, or legal associates, or any number of other specialized administrative functions. In their world, they alone produce income for the company, and everyone else is just wasting paper; there’s some truth to this, except for the fact that they also miss the big picture, because they’re obsessed with the trivial. Programmers, for example, can be found often saying, “I know the software accidentally sold 2,000 people cars for only $40 each, but look how fast it indexes our database – this is technological triumph equalled by only another 4,000 people worldwide!” This is one form of obsession with the trivial. Legal associates can be just as bad, in that they will calmly look up everything you request of them, but then will fail to notice a case exactly similar to the one you are trying, and thus the cause will be lost when the client gets an anonymous fax from a competing firm informing him that his lawyers are, indeed, the bunglers he imagines them to be. Ask the legal associate and he’ll look at you blankly: “But I did as you asked!”
These people are one form of the great defect known as modern neurosis. You can find it anywhere, however. In software firms they also employ artists; these work very hard on command, but have to be told exactly what to do, as they lack the ability to look at the big picture and realize there’s a need for something. “You didn’t say the program had to have an exit button,” they’ll respond. “But every product we have does!” you remonstrate. No matter – they only see what’s on the worksheet, and only think about how it looks. This is why Robert Heinlein used to rail against specialization; “It’s for insects,” he would have his characters say in any number of great science fiction books. Those who get super-specialized miss the big picture, just like Sara and Stan miss the big picture. Because they habitually adopt this way of looking at the world, soon all parts of their lives follow this function.
For example, Sara rented an apartment; it’s right next to a busy freeway, but since it’s an apartment at the right price, she considers it a “good deal.” Nevermind that no one except the deaf should have apartments next to freeways, because developers keep building them right next to freeways because, look, it’s convenient to get to work this way. And since their audience is composed of Saras and Stans, no one ever calls them up and says, “Did you ever think this is a Bad Idea, since the noise will be intolerable?” They’ll either retort with the utilitarian – “we haven’t had any complaints so far!”, which is the ultimate passive defense – or will, like Sara, look down into their carefully organized file drawers – see, I’m a good worker – and claim their job only involves looking at the details; they’re detached from the big picture.
Other examples abound. The self-image junkies are the worst. Raul, down in Marketing, he loves to get laid. Loves it loves it. So he’s out every night at the bar, then bringing home a different chick who also loves to get laid, and as a result his mind isn’t really on his work. He slogs along through a project, spending more time in front of the mirror and on the phone than even thinking about it, and then patches it up and staples the mess together and runs it by his secretary, who has to clean up the disaster and make it presentable, and then he’s off to the bar. His work process is distracted, and as a result he makes the same old mediocre crap that every other idiot makes out of a job: blockhead products, degenerate marketing, stupid ideas. Why should he care? He is a stud, and he knows it.
Josh in Support is just as bad. You see, you didn’t know this – and it’s really not your fault – but Josh is a secretly very profound artist. He may work in anti-capitalist poetry, or feminist film noire, or maybe even has an iconoclastic rock band of his own, but he’s undiscovered. His identity is entirely based around being unrecognized, because it allows him to look in the mirror and say: “They just don’t know, but I am superior to them all.” In act, the I’m-better-than-you seems to occur frequently among people who live in personal realities, which are what I call these worlds that orbit our planet like distant sattellites and never seem to have to correspond to reality. Even if his poetry sucks, or his films are appreciated only by those who are alienated enough to kick around a dead genre like feminist noire, he knows he’s better than you. His personal world exists. Interestingly, although Josh doesn’t like “organized religion,” he’s exactly like Phil, across the hall. Phil’s a conservative and a good Christian and believes the rest of us are going to hell, but luckily Phil found the secret and he’s tight with God. Allright.
Superman in the example some paragraphs ago was a control junkie, but there are other forms of control junkies. Ron manages our audience research, and he’s good at what he does, but he makes you wait in his office while he digs up your report, proofreads it and hands it along. He enjoys having people wait for him, because otherwise, what does he have in life? A television. Sergey in development is the same way, except his symptom is different: he likes to argue the technical details of language, or of computer language, in such a way that whether or not it is relevant to the project (and it’s usually not) he is “proven” to be “right” and you are – wrong. Sergey grew up in a divorced home, and put himself through college, and he thinks anyone who didn’t suffer as much as he did had it easy and is thus a weakling, and he likes crushing weaklings. He also likes driving home that guilt trip. As a result, his projects often completely miss the boat, like that website he produced which never mentioned the product, nor worked with any browser but Internet Explorer. Locked in his own head? Sergey’s Personal Reality.
The regular office staff have this disease to varying degrees. You’ll often hear people politely declining a task with, “It’s not my job,” if it’s something they could be held accountable for, or “It didn’t matter much to me at the time” if it’s not. Imagine these people trying to come together on something after work – they’d never have the ability to start a business, get together a meaningful volunteer effort to protect wildlife or even start building a settlement if shipwrecked on a distant isle. They will however make sure that you know they did a “good job” on client calls, or sorting the supplier files, or organizing the lower staff to actually do their jobs (lower staff, being totally replaceable, are expected to space out and start making personal calls, playing video games or masturbating if not supervised constantly). They exist in their own worlds, where only they are important and their choices are made solely for themselves. As a result, they do nothing outside the mandatory, and even while telling you how much of a “team player” they are, are concentrating their vital energies elsewhere.
I am not saying jobs are important – to the contrary, I think they’re garbage, but that’s the result of this attitude. If we could each get over our emotional pretense, and function as a team, we could all go home by 2 PM and spend time on healthy things like walking outside, or being with our friends and family, or even some creative art. But really, that’s not the kind of thing you can mention in one sentence at a party and have everyone nod knowingly. Better to be obsessed with sex, or superman, or — wait, there’s a type I forget: the emotional overdrive type. These exist in every office, near plump boxes of kleenex, and the charge they get out of life is knowing that they are the few who are actually emotionally in touch with life. If someone comes by your desk with a sign up sheet for donations to the poor overpopulated tsunami victims, or weeping about the plight of the homeless in Alaska, recognize why they do this: it reinforces their image of self to think of themselves as having discovered emotional “truth” while the rest of us are callous, unfeeling, distant people.
Another type that you’ve all experienced is The Savior-Queen. This person views his job as the essence of the business, and believes that if he doesn’t make it in to work, the entire thing will collapse into dust as brimstone rains around it. He usually thinks this because it is not true; his authority and responsibilities are minimal, in part because he has so many psychological issues that he’s impossible to deal with. The Savior-Queen will come up to your desk when you’re in the middle of some trivial phone call, for example finding out how to get tax figures to the auditor by the close of the business day, and he will start talking as if you don’t exist – except he’s talking to you, and needs you to exist, it’s just that you’re not important. After all, you aren’t the martyr of the business, and its fearless leader who is somehow unrecognized. When you peel back all of his bluster, the Savior-Queen, like everyone else mentioned in this article, suffers from low self-esteem. Consequently, he projects authority and rests all of his self-esteem in that; if you don’t recognize his authority, he takes it personally – very personally. These are the people who most commonly go running to “Human Resources” (you fools, you have been domesticated) to complain about someone being “unprofessional,” meaning they didn’t kiss his ass. The way to deal with these people is to tell them they have beautiful eyes, or that they’re “essential to the team,” because, just like when you give a jelly donut to a dog, they’ll then follow you around for a week.
Dysfunctional, all of them. We can debate for years the origin of this dysfunctionality, but I say go with Occam’s Razor on this one and realize that the simplest rational solution is usually accurate: society has divided to the point where we have no direct contact with the means of producing actual useful things, thus we become mentally like our bureaucratic jobs. Since most people simply fulfill a small function, they don’t need to notice the details, and can afford to indulge any number of personality defects. And why not? No one will notice until you shoot up the office or make fecal art on the boardroom wall. Further, what kind of person would try to resist the onslaught? Just be broken with the rest of us.
Broken, indeed. Fully functional as far as having a job, sliding that credit card through the machine in the checkout line, and mastering the details of ordering phone service, car insurance, or pizza. Yet inside – their inner strength – they are depleted, and broken in the second sense of the word, which one uses with horses: “He was wild when he came here, but we broke him over the weekend, and now he’s content to carry the plough for sixteen cents of grain at the end of the day.” Has humanity domesticated itself? Most likely. There is a lack of inner strength, and a dependence upon outward actions and great shows of giving a damn or pretending to care about the project or company being broken because one was too obsessed with details, nightlife, or rules to notice the drain-plug had been pulled and the water was escaping the tub.
This is how the world ends; not with a bang, but a whimper. No one noticed we were cutting down all the trees and replacing them with concrete; no one figured out that we were spewing toxins enough into the air and water to kill what lived in them, and turn them into a truly alien environment. People were too busy or too distracted to see that our society was getting so dumbed-down people were becoming dysfunctional, or that we were slowly making our cities into small hells where living next to a freeway, at the right price, is a “good thing.” Others were too involved in their own personal realities to recognize that society, as a whole, was becoming less of an empowering experience and more of one of servitude. Well, at least you aren’t one of those suckers earning sixteen cents a day! I get a full $500 of grain per day.
I’m surrounded by dysfunctional people. At this point, I see the world in terms of leaders and followers, and the ones who are mostly leaders are the ones I care about surviving, although I care for my friends, most of whom have a mixed character between leader and follower. Some may end up being leaders. Others will ultimately give in to their inner follower and become totally useless, at which point it’s like visiting my friends out of rehab: a long list of stuff you can’t mention, because it will destabilize fragile egos. I view those visits as duty more than pleasure at this point, and while every friendship involves some duty, only those that are dying like this civilization are all duty. Much as I respect the few (under 1%) people who are not dysfunctional at jobs, I love my friends who are mostly functional and will do a lot for them, because just as a forest is more beautiful than a parking lot, shopping mall or landfill, they’re superior to the dysfunctional horde.
Maybe these tsunamis aren’t such a bad thing. Perhaps global warming, despite its grotesque implications for many parts of our environment, which will be obliterated, is a good thing. Bring on the next ice age. It’s time we pare down the people who couldn’t survive a night in the woods alone because the rules didn’t say explicitly that one had to run from bears, or to put the fire exactly three feet from the tent or the tent might burn. The people who are unable to think past their own genitals, or caught up in their self-image as superman or forgotten artist, would be distracted as the flames lept higher or the bear crept nearer or the ice formed overhead. Death strikes the oblivious. This might not be a bad thing. Those that survived – more leader than follower – would be functional, at least.
Monday, January 17th, 2005
Not every civilization is founded the same way. It might be as simple as a small tribe leaving another civilization and wandering until they find a space that “will do,” and then they begin the long process of creation: building shelter, cultivating animals and fields, defending against enemies and starting institutions of learning, spirituality and government. It might be a group of religious breakaways, or convicts, or rebels, or a few individuals fortunate enough to evolve higher intelligence than the former group possessed. However it is founded, it will have a birth, and with luck a long life, and then begin the process of decline.
The decline of civilizations is universal. First consensus is lost; there is no longer an external enemy such as death through lack of civilization, so the mechanism of society is taken for granted and divided up among those who inherit it. Without a creative goal, the civilization declines into infighting, and therefore is incapable of choosing a direction on any issue; for this reason, the slow-acting poisons work unchecked until it falls. Its only goals are internal, and these also lack the creative impetus, thus there is nothing to do but for groups to take sides and polarize its parts against each other, with no one notices that this polarizes everyone against the whole.
When a civilization is dying, it is a paranoid time: no one can be trusted except to act in their self-interest, and since there is no long-term goal, those interests involve short-term linking like profit, power in the petty sense of taking a position and enforcing rules on others, and of course social power, which is how one feels “important” and can have authority for authority’s sake among the population. Of course, nothing is worse than unmerited “authority,” so this further divides the people, and soon although they are all going in separate directions, they agree on some “standard” of behavior which is used to alienate those who might criticize the direction of the failing civilization.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
– The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot
Thus comes about classic “in-group” politics, because if anyone is confronted with the truth that civilization is falling, it will make his or her accomplishments be shown as hollow, and since this person has no actual creative goals and thus gains all self-esteem from holding positions defined by other people, that would destabilize the individual. For this reason, the individuals form the social gang which applies the rules of behavior, so they can each be “important” and no one may pierce the bubble of illusion that says society as a whole is healthy, “doing just fine – hell – getting better every day!”, and thus remove the legitimacy of the power of every individual in the crowd. The mob of individuals creates its own rule based on the self-esteem needs of its members, and reality is forgotten.
And who notices? The most pernicious weapon the in-group has is the illusion that we are separate from history, that our civilization will live forever and is heading toward a “progressive” future, and that therefore the rules don’t apply to us. Other civilizations grow and fall, but we are the civilization that’s a result of all of them, and the only one ever to discover the right way to do things; thus (goes the logic) we are eternal. We can make whatever changes we need because we are building on a platform that, like the memory of our dead, will never go away. Right?
The globe is littered with remnants of civilizations living on as a shadow of themselves. This is not to disparage those who live in them, except to note that they are the ones who survived a great disaster that generally shaped everyone to conform to its needs, or to pass judgment on these civilizations; the question “And what do you want for a civilization?” comes to mind here. The Aztecs in Mexico were once the height of the new world, with learning and social structure far beyond Christian Europe, but now, Mexico is barely able to hide the open sewers running down its streets, and contributes nothing to the world except a third world economy, which is that of a nation industrialized enough to export raw materials and basic manufacturing skills, but not learning or invention.
Tajfel found that when the boys were choosing between two boys in the same group, choices tended to be made on the basis of maximum fairness.
When the choice was between one boy in their ingroup and one boy in their out group the boys discriminated in favour of the ingroup…In making their intergroup choices a large majority of the participants gave more money to members of their own group than to members of the other group. Intergroup discrimination was the strategy used in making intergroup choices.
In contrast the in-group and out-group choices were closely distributed around the point of fairness.
– The Tajfel Study
But now the wailing starts from the in-group. Oh, you must be ignorant and racist and stupid and a terrorist, and not know that Mexico was conquered by Hernan Cortez in 1519. My response: Yes, with 300 soldiers, which is not the amount of force required to overthrow an empire. He landed with a small force, rallied the slave populations of the Aztec and Maya, and used them to defeat their masters; this was a collapse from within, and Cortez merely the implement. I don’t have any praise for him, as anyone who takes the sacred gold of objects of a great society and melts them down is without reverence for his world; his eyes were on God and wealth, not the sanctity of life as a whole, meaning not individuals but the process by which civilizations occur and value things enough to make gods-in-the-earth out of them.
The Aztecs fell, and the Maya before them, from within. So, apparently, did the Hopi in Northwestern America, as did the ancient civilizations of Angkor Wat and Afghanistan. Also, it seems, did the great North African republics, as did Egypt, as did the once-mighty civilizations of the Islamic world. India, once the source of all civilized learning and might, is now overwhelmed by a massive population with little ability to create, although some have kept the learning and ancient ways alive. And Greece, and Rome? The political entities that replaced them have achieved little, and resemble the original populations barely at all. Indeed, all of Europe’s great empires have fallen to some degree, after a period of colonialism and imperium.
But was this the imperium of healthy nations? To me it seems as if more likely, it was the in-group expanding outward to conquer any who might be dissidents, because nothing threatens an in-group more than people who do things a different way and, because they might be thriving in some ways compared to the in-group, thus provide an option which usurps the absolute, solid power of that in-group. Conquer them and convert them to Christianity: misery loves company, and if they’re with us and we all die together, at least that way we were not proven to be wrong. The once-great colonial empires of Europe are all in massive decline; having exported their rule, they found they could not sustain it, and thus taking a blow to the self-esteem relapsed into being pleasant vacation destinations. I am thinking here of the ancient Visigothic empires of France, Spain, and Portugal, and the northern European states such as The Netherlands and England.
England, or Great Britain as they want us to call it now, since it absorbed its nearer colonies through brutal wars based on class and religion, is a perfect example. Once a nation of might, creating great things and contributing to the world, it is now a neurotic, frivolous empire, exporting its insanity through a “world policeman” role as a shadow to the USA, its newer offshoot which is clearly following in its footsteps. Are people happy, there? By how “happy” is defined, surely: they have cars and houses and jobs with nifty titles. Inwardly, however, they are craven and full of doubt, thus they cling to absolute ideas like justice, multiculturalism, morality, etc. to compensate for their lack of inner strength. They are looking for something in the world outside that is a fixed and immovable object, something to which the drowning can cling.
Will they find it? No one has, because if such a thing existed, it would prevent the decline of that which must face its time to die. Much like the Aztecs or Egyptians, the old order of Europe has died, leaving behind reactionaries (conservatives) and a “new order” (liberals) who have no solutions, but encourage the process of decay because, having inner weakness, they seek Absolutes in the form of pity for others, a universal social order where competition is eliminated, and the like. If you limit your focus to how our society defines itself in history, this will be mystifying, but if you look at history beyond the official doctrine, and see how the patterns of the past repeat themselves, these processes can be distilled to nothing more than the fibrilation of a dying empire.
Look at the people of our new order. We seem to lack many great thinkers and artists, as populated former times; in literature, at least, it’s hard to find any voices since the 1930s who had any strength or vision. The ones who are left discuss their “great ideas” solely in the context of the in-group values of this dying civilization, and where those values leave off, so do the authors. There are no T.S. Eliots, or Ernest Hemingways, or F. Scott Fitzgeralds or even William Faulkners. Where is our Beethoven, or even on a lesser level, our Mozart, or our Brahms? Somehow I doubt it’s Eminem or Linkin Park, and even they would disclaim that title. Where’s our Carl Jung, or our Homer? A dying age has a lack of heroes, and raised without heroes, its youth have no higher ambition than comfortable living and intoxication.
Look at the people of our new order. They have myriad health problems, mostly revolving around congenital diseases and being fat and out of health; even the diseases they bring upon themselves are tiny compared to the overall tendency to die of inactivity and overeating. They are neurotic, and demand constant entertainment and drama to keep them from feeling the sting of life’s emptiness. They are from every nation on earth, and share no culture in common, so their culture becomes that of the television, of the malls, and of the talking heads in charge. What kind of civilization is this? It is not; it is remnants, but the fearful crowd – the in-group – will do almost anything to prevent you from seeing that, because if you see it, that is one view that might contest their own, in which they lack inner confidence. A neurotic, paranoid time.
The culture is decayed. Great ideas that should exist on their own merit are forced to sell themselves, and to pander to the whims of a crowd that, bored with its lives, is always seeking something “new” and “unique” as if one more piece of art deco furniture could compensate from a lack of consensus, thus no way to establish a goal that benefits all, thus no way to establish quests and tasks which fulfill a life. Like dying stars they collapse into themselves. Always eating and never full, they run through a parade of plastic objects, temporary lovers, habits and vices, and even “kicks” – I’m on a yoga kick this week, or lately, I’ve been trying out macrame – but their souls are empty and their eyes blank. When there is no plan for the future, there are no values now, except comfort and intoxication, which are hollow and become boring after only a decade.
Without a goal, our civilization lacks a will, and without that, has no meaning and thus lives in fear of death. To live in fear of death means to take death into yourself as the highest value, and thus to be a servant of it. All of your values are contingent upon avoiding death, or not mentioning death, or finding something “important” with which to balance the inevitability of death: religion, morality, liberalism, antique cars, modern art. This lack of will explains the urgency of conquest in the late European republics, and marks the final stage of their passage from living civilization to burned-out husks like those of the “third world.” Granted, back when there were thinkers, this was recognized, but books need an audience and if the audience cannot comprehend, or will not because of in-group politics, even the greatest truths spelled out in simple sentences go unnoticed.
One way to view this passage is that there is an “other side,” but that not all of us will make it. Most are already so broken that to die childless and be forgotten is the best gift they can receive; others waver on the razor’s edge between being committed to reality and just wanting to pull the covers over their head and go back to sleep, which at this point means a corporate job, a BMW and a “multicultural” significant other, or series thereof. These should not make the passage. For those with the will to be reverent for life, and thus wish to make a great civilization matching it, there are two commandments:
Perhaps this is mistitled, or maybe the typist or editor left out a word: to survive is to survive well. Rise above. Marry well, breed well, and raise your kids according to the ancient values of your tribe. Even more, live well yourself, and by this I do not mean comfort. Avoid the illusions of television, sports, and oversocialization; keep alive around you the best ideas, people and values. Be unrepentant, and be selective; anytime the in-group tells you that you “must” do or believe something, quietly do your own thing. Be legal, and be polite about it, because this forces them to martyr you if they’re going to strike, and if they do that, they lose their own feelings of self-esteem through morality.
II. Do Not Bless the Illusion
The illusion is all around you, and every day someone will come running up to you with some artifact of it, looking for you to praise it. Politely and firmly maintain your ground. “I don’t watch television, but I’m glad you enjoyed that program” is an honest sentiment without scorn, and should be more frequently heard. Simiarly, dismiss all politics and “social conscience” palaver with “It seems our civilization is falling, and it will be interesting to see what happens next.” Then change the subject to something positive. This sows seeds of doubt among others, but does so without making you an aggressor, and allows you to keep your friends and friendly neighbors without compromising your ideals, which is the alternative if you start talking about modern politics, society or industry as if it will actually solve the problem. It won’t, and it deserves no credit from an independent mind that is aware of history.
These are terrible things to write, if one believes that now is the only moment. They recognize that our enemy is not without, but within, and that the ultimate test of our species is still at hand: natural selection can at any moment remove us, or more likely, breed us into simpler creatures incapable of great civilization, but those natural disorganization makes them self-regulating. While civilization still exists, however, we can remember that nature is infinite and provides opportunity at every turn, so with decay comes room for those who will survive the passage: these are the founders of a new civilization.
Thursday, January 13th, 2005
The first casualty of any populist system is the ability to exist in a non-partisan activity. Since your power results from marshaling together a group and getting them to exert the weight of numbers, you have to dumb down your ideas to the point where a group can accept them and agree on them. Since the society as a whole exists to please the individual, individuals are cultivated to be “different” and thus they will come to the table not willing to agree but to assert each and every one that difference, thus narrowing the focal point of the group. As a result, one has the modern partisan decision-making process: complex ideas are distilled into simple points around which groups rally, forming oppositional camps, and somehow (it is supposed) they will arrive at the truth.
As anyone who has suffered through the decisions of a committee, or any other partisan political process, can attest, the result is that any change occurs in incremental steps around the most obvious conclusions. If a giant rubbery monster is attacking the city, it’s easy to agree that something must be done; a problem without immediate manifestation in a way visible equally to all, however, is much harder. It is for this reason that societies collapse from within from lack of consensus, which means that when the rubbery monster does finally surge from the sea spouting fire, no one can even agree that they give a damn enough to save the city, and most of them, enwrapped in the fatalistic guilt of awareness of how much they’ve given up control to crowd pleasing, feel it is divine judgment that they be destroyed.
With my primary issue, namely allowing our natural environment to enslave the human onslaught, this phenomenon is observable to tragic degree. Most political parties, sensing that they can appease the guilt of some with a few token bones tossed in their direction, and thus can possibly gain votes, have a token environmental policy that, while it addresses a few symptoms, will do nothing to correct the problem. This grim comedy was most evident in the debate during the last election over drilling for oil in national forests; while this might indeed be an issue, it is a convenient emotional and symbolic issue that allows everyone to bypass the issue as a whole and go about business as usual.
There is even a Green party! We would be fortunate if such a thing were actually politically viable. However, the Greens have made themselves into an extreme form of the same practice, by which they address only environmental issues, sniping from the sidelines, and have no practical plan for society as a whole. For this reason, they get dismissed by many as airy idealism (vernacular, not philosophical, usage), because they want to stop certain symptoms, but cannot address the causes, and have nothing to replace those causes even if they can stop them, leading to a total social breakdown as vital organs are ripped out of the society and a void left into which (if history is any yardstick) anarchy, depression, chaos and unwelcome sodomy will fall.
Thus, while there is activity in the name of Green (and here we don’t mean the usual green that comes pre-printed with denominations redeemable in future value, assuming there’s a future, and you’d better or you’ll be short groceries and health insurance today) there is no activity with a viable political future going on to address the question of Green, which for you late-comers and back-of-the-classroom types I’ll reiterate: stopping overconsumption of natural resources, overutilization of natural space, and the vast amounts of pollution (waste outside of special containers) and landfill (waste, garbage, toxins and discarded plastic inside special containers) that humanity generates. Although this situation in itself is crisis, there’s a further dimension, and one that is familiar to any observer of falling empires: the most necessary changes are profoundly socially unacceptable to discuss, because they go against the moral fabric of our slowly but surely collapsing civilization.
It is inconceivable that, in a utilitarian society, there could be a higher priority than the individual; after all, political power in utilitarian systems is derived by getting most people to agree that a certain action or activity roughly pleases them. This is the definition of utilitarianism, and from this idea – pleasing most of the people most of the time – we get our vaunted “modern” and “progressive” institutions of democracy and individualism. Individuals, indeed, are the core of a utilitarian system, because gaining agreement rests not so much in addressing their actual needs, but in getting them to agree that their needs are being met; this is primarily achieved by not offending sacred cows, inevitably by addressing certain high and lofty concepts that every individual feels benefits himself or herself. In a utilitarian society, the individual is king, but paradoxically, rule occurs through the mass. All liberal democracies fall until this framework.
For this reason, a fundamental realization is avoided: that humanity grows daily because populations expand exponentially, and that no population checks itself until it runs into a fatal regulatory factor. This means that human populations will continue to expand a tier every generation, and that by the time this population so poisons itself that decline occurs because resources are limited, resources will already have been pushed to the breaking point, and there will be no unoccupied land masses to which the few sane ones can run while the others die in their own waste. In short, it’s a race to the cliff-edge, and most people upon recognizing this have decided it’s better to go first over the cliff than get sodomized by the losers at the rear of the pack.
This dual force, on one side the social and political taboo of mentioning the problem, and on the other the emotional and psychological futility associated with it, guarantees that the name of the primary cause of all of our Green worries cannot be mentioned, no matter how many seals we save or whether we forbid all drilling in national forests. The ugly name of this grotesque problem is Overpopulation, and for this I advance a new definition: having too many people to allow natural habitats to exist in their native format, which requires more land than humanity does. It does not mean, as some wish we would suppose, having too many people to fit on earth, because at that point the cause is lost. Nor does it mean having too many people to feed, or to fit in our current land occupation; we’re already taking up too much space, consuming too many resources and producing too much waste.
Overpopulation refers to the unchecked growth of humanity. We have no natural predators, so for example an alien observer might suppose that we’d come up with some Design to regulate our population before it reached the point where, inevitably with the growth of generations, it would consume all free-standing resources and force the conversion of the remaining open land into space for the production of food in order to “save lives.” Overpopulation is not a static figure, but the ongoing process of having no plan and thus expanding in all directions without regulation, including in such a political system where we cannot mention the need to curb growth, because that will deny to someone the ability to have a big house and family and produce tons of waste, and thus is the exact opposite of trying to “save lives.”
Before you throw up your hands in hopelessness at this neurotic delirium, and put a bullet through your own skull, let me say that it’s easy to solve. But first, I’ll address another misconception: that if we “just” recycle enough, ride bicycles to work, wear sweaters and wash out and reuse our condoms we’ll be fine. What a happy illusion! Even if I smoked a grip of crack, I could never believe this will work, because the only people who are going to voluntarily adopt such standards are those who are already wealthy enough to have the luxury of doing so. Further, and most comical, is the knowledge that even if every person on earth were to do this, they would still be expanding as a population and thus would commit the same mass destruction as the path we current follow will, albeit maybe delaying it by up to a decade. Thus the traditional Green concept of being an ethical consumer, while a good idea in its own right (what kind of psychotic asshole would not recycle?), will not solve the problem; it does not address the situation; it is a total failure.
There’s another wrinkle here, which is that populations lacking natural regulatory factors breed out of control both outwardly (sheer numbers) and inwardly, which refers to the quality of their populations. Contrary to popular belief, predators are lazy, so they carry off the malformed, mentally and physically defective, diseased and weak before they even think of assaulting an animal in its prime. Humanity has no such regulatory factor, and if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that the stupid and defective breed more than those who are strong and thus have the foresight and ability to breed only in replacement numbers, which tends to be two parents = two children, and no more.
Before the propaganda of utilitarian society rises in you, and you rebel against me here and call me Satan or Hitler or some kind of thug, realize that if you put any person on earth into a private room and ask them, with the knowledge that the answer will be kept secret for all time, what the human problem is, they’ll mention in as many words, “There are too many stupid people.” For many of them, nature’s sick joke will be that they are stupid, but you’ll hear the same answer from a genius or a healthy religious leader as well, so it’s not only stupid people who suggest such an idea. Rather, it’s a commonly accepted truth that most human beings are fools who, while they can function fine in bureaucratic jobs, are useless for long-term planning or appreciating the subtle beauty of a forest. Their interest is wealth and entertainment, and as long as they can buy food, they don’t give half a shit about the demise of our natural habitat, although they may pretend to for the purpose of gaining votes or appearing “noble” to their neighbors.
The vast majority of the human population on earth is under 100 IQ points, and while the IQ test is far from ideal, it gives a general idea of intelligence, and no person under 100 IQ points has the intelligence to check their own behavior, thus is useless for any kind of society that has no natural predators – in fact, they’re more than useless, as they’ll continue to breed more stupid people who will never check their behavior, and thus will clamor the loudest for more products, wealth and landfills. These people can be sterilized, or killed, but it amounts to the same thing: natural selection being imposed from within. If we lose the three billion or so of these, it’s a good start, but there’s still too many people. Lest you think this is a polemic against the third world, which is admittedly the biggest polluter (mainly unmeasured, since it requires wealth to take correct measurements), I’ll go further.
Most people in the industrial, liberal democratic societies of America and Europe are also fully useless. They can read newspapers, watch TV, and fill out forms and make conference calls at work, but that’s about it. They don’t care about the environment. They care about more food, more wealth, and better entertainment. They are in fact devoid of all awareness whatsoever of the importance of any long-term action. If our society is going to self-regulate, as it must since it lacks predators, these people need to go away, whether by sterilization or murder. “Murder” has bad constructs, but we don’t think of it as murder to kill killers, while it is – “murder” is a positive thing as long as the person, in the words of many a cowboy, “needed killing.” Killing is the only way you ensure these people will not act out their diabolical agenda of stupidity and short-term, self-pleasing thought.
Since I’m breaking taboo here, and all of the people who fit this description have stopped reading long ago (and you thought that opening lengthy sentence was for show? silly you), I’ll say this: we must consider eliminating our population of under roughly 125 IQ points, since that’s about the threshold for those who can make long term plans and those who cannot. IQ is fallible, so I suggest looking at people’s deeds so far; no point telling them they must shape up, and then sparing them when they do, as they lack the native ability and inclination to do so. A society of geniuses is probably not our goal, but a society of people who can agree on the most basic long term actions like “don’t shit where you eat” and “don’t destroy your environment” is necessary, and those who cannot make that leap of cognition are those who will always work against it; let’s remove them. Did I mention that ill-bred people also require constant medical care, generating more mountains of waste? Healthy people spend little time in hospitals, until the end, at least.
Oh, the voices would be wailing now, if any of them could understand this far. It’s terrible you do this! Our goal is to save lives! My goal is to save life – that is, life a a whole – and some lives impede that, thus they need to be eliminated. Further, some ways of thinking impede that, such as the idea that we should be able to do whatever we can afford to do with no thought to the whole, thus that must be eliminated also. Luckily, this can be done within a democratic process, by creating a feudal civilization in which an elite of long-term thinkers rules, and there is a higher value than money and a consensus that civilization should grow by natural selection toward ever-increasing heights, not stagnation. With even a small portion of the intelligent population agitating for this, as it will make their lives better by not condemning them and their children to future apocalypse, it will occur by democratic means within our very society. And while this future society comes bearing death for some, consider the option: death for all, and our environment that has taken billions of years to evolve.
In Vedic mythology, the oldest and most advanced spiritual system on earth, life runs in cycles which roughly correspond to humans mastering their environment and, lacking predators or a consensual goal, become bloated and fat like couch-dwellers, thus overpopulating and creating degenerate, failure-oriented societies. At the end of these cycles, certain mythological figures appear, and if you pay attention closely to your dreams, you will see their symbolism as wisdom. One such figure is Kalki, who appears astride a white horse bearing a sword, clearing away the excess life so that life itself can thrive again. White horse = rare in nature, but true to the method of nature, created by nature for a specialized purpose, and surviving by its fitness above others. When you see a society that is unable to recognize its certain doom, that has made discussion of the actual problem taboo and thus contents itself with frivolous self-gratifying talk of symptoms, realize that death is here to save life – and in your prayers, look toward Kalki, death on a white horse, and say to yourself, that alone is our salvation.
Thursday, January 13th, 2005
Recently, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) got in a firefight with the liberal Jewish establishment because PETA dared compare the extermination of Jews in Europe to humanity’s practice of mass farming and then slaughtering animals. The Jewish establishment wants to believe that the “Holocaust” was a singular event in all of history, and not the uprising of a people against the parasitic foreign population they identified with Bolshevism, which systematically Holocausted the best intellectuals and strongest people across Europe wherever it took root; however, this article isn’t about the petty victim politics of a group of religious and racial fanatics (Judaism) but about the nature of our treatment of animals.
There was an article recently about how McDonald’s is considering a new, “more humane” method of killing chickens: they’re going to gas them. By itself, this seemed to underscore the provocative but accurate commentary of PETA’s statement, in that the mythological gas chambers have been reinvented for use in a “humane” way of dispatching the billions of chickens we gobble every year in tiny styrofoam containers with disposable napkins, forks and condiment packets adding up to a mountain of plastic landfill. However, it’s hard to tell whether the article was intended as macabre comedy or not, because it offhandedly tosses out, halfway through:
McDonald’s animal welfare council suggested a study of the newer method, said Bob Langert, McDonald’s senior director of social responsibility. It would replace a slaughtering process in which chickens are hung by their legs on a moving conveyor line and pulled through an electrified vat of water. – USA Today
So we’re moving on from dragging them through electrocution ponds to new and more humane methods? Much as PETA, like Stormfront or One People’s Planet, strike me as people who are fanatical about a single issue because they have no solution for the whole, it’s clear they’re onto something here. No person of integrity finds that basic method acceptable (interestingly, you’ll find few people of integrity eating at fast food restaurants, either). No one with any sense of even aesthetics finds that method anything other than amusing in a hopeless way. When one is staring at a worksheet of costs and safety regulations, it may shine like a beacon of Heaven in contrast to other options, but still – it’s crazy, and brutal. The root of it is that we see nature and its animals as material, not as a living, continuing process, and thus something that like ourselves we must keep alive.
This is brutal comedy, and it would be actually funny if we didn’t see here how modern society breaks down: on one side, people are talking about profit and jobs and how important it is that every person can earn a living, even if by generating mountains of landfill making cheap, disgusting food for morons. On the other, there are some fanatics who believe, correctly, that the way we treat animals is insane, but they offer no solutions, thus fall into a self-parodic cycle of attacking nearly every part of society without offering a solution. (The probable reason: internal dissent over the solution, mostly brought on by the liberal attitudes of members, which hold that it’s terrible to force anyone to do anything, even if what you’re preventing them from doing is sadistic, destructive, excess waste-producing idiocy.)
I think of this in parallel to slavery. Whatever one thinks of black people, which is a separate issue from this site and this column entirely, enslaving them as material for use by industry was clearly a denial of the fact that they, like every other animal on earth (humans are animals, much as we’d like to deny it), originate from the same source in nature, and that nature is a continuous process and not static material. It’s one thing to have indentured servants, or domesticated livestock, when they are an integral part of the life of families and communities, but when they are sold as material, with no regard to their role in the process of nature, it becomes destructive to both enslaver and slave. The slave obviously is no longer a participant in nature, and becomes bred dumb and useless. The enslaver, accustomed to thinking not of nature but material, soon begins to treat himself with the same lack of reverence.
A similar situation prevails with animals today. Far from the old days, where small farms took care of their animals and raised them well, today they’re birthed, grown and slaughtered on assembly lines because the vast horde of stupid humans out there will pay $5.99 for chicken nuggets and guarantee profit to another. The material consideration, profit, is the only one; no one points out to McDonald’s that, if you make products for morons, soon you become moronic yourself. No one considers their actions in terms of the whole, but only in the specific artificial world of profit which is wholly dependent on this civilization and, when it fails, will become as useless as tits on a bull. The result is that all of us, as involuntary enslavers, become slaves to the moronic need of people who want fast food, and to the profit-motive that jerks us like marionnettes through a boring and moronic course of life that we would otherwise eschew. But remember – this is “freedom,” and freedom is slavery.
Tuesday, January 11th, 2005
In the end stages of every great civilization, several things happen. First, impetus is lost: people no longer have an urge to create civilization as, heck, it’s already here, let’s enjoy it and not think too hard, because the people that made this place, they took life too seriously, man. Second, consensus is lost, in that people accustomed to appreciating the benefits of society no longer have the singular focus on maintaining it that comprises a healthy goal set. Once consensus is lost, what we commonly call “values” cannot exist, since there’s no agreement about what is valued. After this, the symptoms set in, namely internal division, loss of learning and culture, and of course, bad breeding, first within the bloodline and then miscegenation.
This is how great civilizations fall, and you can see their ruins today all over the earth. T.S. Eliot was correct to note that “it ends” with a whimper and not a bang, because by the time the ancient structures are falling, there are few left who can actually realize what’s happening. Most of the population have already transitioned to the idea of living among the ruins in a more primitive state, and lacking most qualities of discernment in themselves, aren’t much concerned about how all finer things are crumbling around them, because they still have their fast food and television and are content with that. There is rarely a sudden appearance by the forces of evil to sweep into the streets and crush a vibrant culture; rather, the collapse of a great civilization is as anticlimactic as the death of a terminal cancer patient.
As always, there is writing on the wall, for those who remember how to read it. Lacking a goal, people become obsessed by novelty and personal conceits, so instead of having hearty, strong people who can create, you have very trendy people who adorn themselves excessively and are neurotically obsessed with appearance. This is a natural consequence of having lost consensus, because since there is no longer a goal to the society as a whole and an agreement about how to reach it, people focus on living in a society of disorder. To gain power in such a society, one entertains and flatters, and this requires a decadent but “different” lifestyle in order to distinguish oneself in any way. Bread and circuses for the poor, trinkets and fads for the wealthy.
One can survive such a society, but it requires doing something most free-willed people find abhorrent: dedicating themselves in the largest part toward earning money, and sacrificing most of their time to this goal. Work six day weeks and bring home a fat paycheck, and you can get out into the suburbs where most people are gentler. You can afford the Alta Dena organic dairy milk, the no-pesticide vegetables, the finer clothes; you can drive a nice car, and buy memberships in places where the screaming rabble don’t congregate. However, ultimately, such a lifestyle requires increasing amounts of money as the rest of the economy collapses and thus such finer things become aberrations in a consumer environment rewarding goods that above all are cheap – quality becomes second to quantity.
In effect, this destroys the middle class, because it raises the bar on the cost of living outside of the undifferentiated mass. You’re either wealthy, and living in a gated community, or you’re with the rest living in a technological third-world environment. With the loss of the middle class comes a loss of the ordinary, hardworking decent people in the world, because they are turned into either whores for money or semi-impoverished scatterbrains like the rest. When that occurs, the base of support for the finer things in life – the arts, culture, and learning – falls entirely into the hands of the wealthy, who are not really concerned with getting it right; they’re concerned with finding a way to make millions so they escape the hoi polloi. Culture dies; art dies; learning dies.
Of course, the mutant corpses survive. There will be “art” – but it will be little more than decoration, “unique” patterns and styles designed to shock or amuse: the kind of stuff that Hitler, being an artist, had no problem ordered being destroyed. There will be “culture,” but it will consist of going to places where you buy things to participate in cultural events will all of the decorum and depth of a Nirvana concert. The institutes of higher learning will continue but will devote most of their time to teaching the ways of the new society, re-interpreting the older knowledge to fit the new rubric and, consequently, destroying it as a system of thought. It, too, will become aesthetics, and although it will exist in reference books (if not burned by the “progressive” newcomers) there will be on a handful who understand it, and none who can add to it.
This is the future that T.S. Eliot and other writers of his generation saw in the 1920s, when America first became obsessed with money and fads, and the first wave of “mostly-white” immigrants rode into the middle of a fair complexioned Northern European stock. Currents in thinking changed, then the population changed, and that cycle begat another. What T.S. Eliot was fortunate enough not to see is the dimension to which modern society has grown. Thanks to industrial technology and greater transportation, this is now a global society, with counterdependent economies and military alliances. It probably does not pay to wonder if the domino theory will apply in nations falling to decay, but it’s clear that most nations are on the same liberal democratic, global industrial society path, and thus will suffer similar fates.
You can’t mention any of this in the current time, of course. Since there’s no goal, people are concerned with making their own money and “rising above” the undifferentiated masses, thus they are mortified that you might offend someone by pointing out that there could be a consensus, because having agreement in values would make some people “better” and “others” worse for the purpose of having citizens who can enact those values. They are also socially concerned; they can’t speak out without losing friends and alienating potential mates. Where bravery is called for, sheeplike herdthink prevails instead simply because the immediate personal cost is too high, although the long-term personal cost of inaction will be much higher. Most can’t handle that so conclude that with personal death their interest in the world ends.
So what is someone concerned about having a civilization to do?
The first and most important task is to begin sorting the world into yes and no categories. This means finding out what you will support, and what you do not consider part of the fulfillment of your goals. In this, you are escaping some Absolute vision of what is “right,” as the conservatives do, and opting for the stronger assertion of will that is “I prefer.” It transcends subject and object classifications, and will occur to the degree of which the individual is capable, but this is a more flexible system than some knee-jerk Absolute which rapidly parodies itself and becomes reactionary and preservationist, which is an error because what is needed is not to save a society that exists – that one has already fallen, I’m afraid – but to create a new society according to the ancient tradition of the Indo-Europeans.
After Friedrich Nietzsche, who asserted a naturalistic and aristocratic social system and derided liberal democracy for its failings, there was Rene Guenon, who gave us a simple logical device for understanding resistance to modern society: all that we saw in the ancients that was functional is part of a set of values that are true in any age because of their fundamental recognition of the problems of reality for those who desire higher civilization, and that is called Tradition; what opposes it is Modernity, and the “progressive” society that believes we can reach some Utopic ideal through egalitarian and utilitarian government. Guenon was correct in dividing current history into these two threads, as Modernity takes many forms, including both Capitalism and Communism, conservatism and liberalism. There is no escape from Modernity once you begin using its divisions.
This split is important in that it allows us to group all aspects of traditional, pre-Christian Indo-European civilization – what is called “ascendant” civilization because it believes in evolving toward a higher state of an eternal ideal, in contrast to “progressive” civilization which advocates a constant change of ideal on a root of progress to Utopic liberalism – into something which can not only be upheld but developed. The only future for Indo-Europeans is to stop trying to finding Absolute reasons to “prove” we are right, and to start building this form of ascendant, Traditional civilization within the train wreck of ideas that is a modern time.
One aspect of Traditional civilization worldwide, regardless of race, is ethnoculture, which is the idea that no culture can exist without its traditional ethnicity to uphold it, because the tens of thousands of generations that produced that culture also shaped the population through selection for those who tended toward upholding its ideal values. Ethnoculture does not designate an Absolute “superior” or “inferior” race. Instead, it asserts an “I prefer”: for each culture to exist, it must prefer to have its own ethnic group isolated from all others. This is not inbreeding; there’s enough variation in even a small population to avoid inbreeding. It’s not “racism,” in the sense of wanting to keep others down, but it’s an honest statement of need and will to keep them out so that the culture can develop without becoming a mixed-race society like so many remnants of collapsed ancient civilizations.
The only workable way to create a Traditional civilization is to begin working with the declining ruin at hand. Yes, the basic values of society around us are defunct, but like a disciplined wrestler, we can use its oncoming weight against it and thus achieve our own means. For that reason, the first proposition of this article is that we accept “diversity,” and take it to its logical extremes.
Diversity means having different groups coexisting; however, in order for them to remain different groups, they can’t merge (our media and institutes of higher learning seem to have forgotten this part). As I once put it to a homosexual gentleman, diversity means that I don’t think much about what you do in your bedroom, but it also means that you don’t begrudge me the right to make gay jokes and be repelled by sodomy, because to a heterosexual, such behavior would be a disastrous submission and loss of masculinity. I respect his “difference,” but he has to respect mine. The same applies to different ethnic groups. To acknowledge their difference is to recognize that participation in that group is limited to members of that group, and now matter how “authentic African art” we buy at Wal-Mart, we’re still members of our own.
This requires formally defining diversity in the first place, and getting some public agreement on this fact. The definition proposed above benefits all groups, as it keeps them distinct from others and guarantees them the ability to govern themselves culturally. A change of this nature would reverse the current tendency for “diversity” to become an emotional value of a passive nature, translated into “accept everyone regardless of their behavior,” which is exactly the opposite mentality of every group that has ever created a civilization with more than mud huts and large rodents roasting on the open fire. Some might call this change “extremist diversity,” but every philosophy should be able to be extended to its extremes without becoming paradoxical.
Because after culture has fallen the task of restoring culture is an artificial one, meaning imposed externally instead of occurring “naturally” from within, it can’t be done with bureaucracy or rules. It has to be done by creating something and drawing those who can appreciate it into the fold, and this can only be done by eschewing alienated ideology for a commonsense belief system that does not require them to give up their membership in society or to adhere to any philosophies of a radical or violently emotional nature. The philosophies these people will find meaningful are ones based on “I prefer” which involve action toward a positive goal. They are not interested in bigotry, nor are they interested in Utopic silliness from liberals. They want a better way of life. This is the origin of all civilization-building, from the first caveman who decided having a permanent fire might be a good idea, onward.
We’ve all read the articles in National Geographic talking about the isolated tribe of Whatitsname “fighting hard to preserve their traditional culture and ways in the face of the onslaught of modernity.” You would never guess from public rhetoric in America that Indo-Europeans are fighting the same battle. We can win it by taking our society’s mechanisms and adapting them singularly to our own need in the type of scenario described above. If we begin building something new that is an option within the realistic spectrum of choices offered to people in our society, the hardiest among them will consider it and be likely to move. The others are too busy “just doing my thing, man” and we are fortunate for their voluntary exclusion.
This plan would require an Indo-European living space. To get started, it needs some kind of economic base, even if only a single corporation that is willing to hire local people. Once the character of the community is started, the laws of our society must be changed. Anti-discrimination legislation, including the Housing and Urban Development rules, no longer need apply in a modern society, so we can campaign to have them removed, not on the grounds that we “hate” other groups, but on the ethnocultural grounds described above – “white people” are no longer in charge of America, and this group of Indo-Europeans wants the right to preserve itself. Similarly, other affirmative action legislation needs to be repealed. It has served its purpose, and now isn’t needed; we want the right to hire only our own kind so we are not forced to alter the makeup of our community to fit racial quotas. This would be a quiet revolution in American law against “one size fits all” legislation to something that would allow actual diversity by giving localized groups the ability to rule themselves, as culturally appropriate, in ways different than those preferred by the undifferentiated masses.
A state such as this, whether located in one place or communities distributed across a continent, will require its own cultural conventions, much as neighborhoods of a longstanding ethnic mix have their own informal ways of governing themselves. It will require its own media: its own television, its own authors, its own artists. It will require its own economic structure that only hires members of that community. Much like successful cultural holdouts such as the Basque or Amish, it must be willing to isolate itself without falling into a passive and hopeless “reservation mentality.” In all likelihood, it would be a feudal state organized by breeding – much like National Socialism. With only a handful of legal changes, it can happen in modern America and Europe, and can separate those worth saving from those who oblivious go into the same doom that has afflicted all great civilizations.
It may seem like fanciful thinking now, and perhaps this article is only metaphor for the changes needed in society as a whole, but given that society has developed on its current path through 2,000 years of liberal democratic thought, it is unlikely to alter its course without violent collapse and revolution, things which historically have not afforded the birth of a new civilization but have cheerfully destroyed many remnants of the old. Civilizations die like stars, by collapsing inward, and the only way to reverse that is to birth a new star from the ashes of the old. We are in the end stages of what our ancestors built, and the time has passed where we could simply destroy alien elements and consider ourselves saved; we must create something new according to the values which engendered the great Indo-European civilizations. In this new birth is our only future.
Some useful reading resources to accompany this article:
Tuesday, January 11th, 2005
In an egalitarian society, there is no greater taboo than that of inequality, and the worst of all of those taboo breakages is to assert that the races are not equal. In this article, I’ll show through reference to some sources that the races aren’t equal, but that the question of race lies outside of the linear scale of “inferior” and “superior.” If you can handle being offended, and recognize that our current civilization is dying because it is in denial of reality, read on.
We’ve all evolved differently, even the different tribes and nations of Europe. Each of us is a history of traits, including mental traits, shaped by our culture. In any given culture, those whose inherent tendencies match the values of that culture succeed; those who don’t match are less likely to breed successfully. Over time, this produces a shared cultural values system, which in turn produces philosophical and political consensus, and this is the basis of every great civilization that has ever existed (although most are in decline at this time, and race-mixing is one symptom of this decline). Without consensus, there is no agreement to move upward and become better, so civilizations decline by settling on a pale imitation of that, such as “Social Darwinism” by which we decide those who earn the most money – not those who do the best job at a given task, but those who make the most money from their task, regardless of how well it is done – are the most valued in that society. This is clearly declining, as bad products often make the most money (Macintosh, American cars, junk food, fast food, cheap heroin), and with this kind of thinking ends the desire of a society to better itself, and it is replaced by a desire to be comfortable during the decline – convenience.
Because we have evolved differently, not only is race-mixing insane, but caste-mixing is insane; if you merge a family of leaders with a family of carpenters, you’ll either get a leader in the role of a carpenter or a carpenter in the role of a leader, but either way, the inclinations of that individual will be mixed between their ostensible task and what they’re actually inclined to do. In my society, the castes are equally valuable, but their specializations are preserved. It takes a different intelligence to be a carpenter than a leader, and a leader makes a crappy carpenter, but both tasks are necessary for the civilization. Hence caste and not class. Class ranks us linearly by money; caste doesn’t rank us, but helps us specialize by task and ensures that each has a respected, honored, necessary place guaranteed to them, unless of course they are grossly incompetent or perverted. Does that help?
I love my African-American friends as well as my “white” friends (really: different Indo-European tribes, including Indians, for whom “white” is a broken general category). I esteem them as individuals and respect them in the highest way, which is to say I don’t expect them to be like me or to fit into an Indo-European society. You can say that African-Americans are more likely to commit violent crime, or that African-Americans are less likely to find social status, that there are intelligence differences between the races, or even that African-Americans lag behind in intelligence, or are products of a different evolutionary path which valued different forms of intelligence, but it doesn’t change my love for my friend, or for myself: I believe I should be able to live in an Indo-European society of my ethnocultural tribe, and be surrounded by only Indo-Europeans, and go visit my African-American friends in their society on weekends, and exile race-mixers from either society to the middle east, which is where race-mixing has traditionally had the greatest number of adherents.
In short, I believe the question of “inferior” or “superior” races is an issue for assholes to debate, and I don’t want any part of it; the races are different, and have different types of ethnocultural societies they prefer, and that objectively is clear, but “subjectively,” I prefer a society of my own kind, with shared ethno-cultural values, and I don’t view that as insulting to African-Americans or any other ethnic group; in fact it’s the opposite: the highest respect I can grant to any group is to insist that they be separate and be allowed to do things their own way, since otherwise is to presume that my way is better, and thus to impose it upon them as an “improvement” over what they are. That’s crass racism, no matter how much we disguise it as Judeo-Christian liberalism. I don’t have any use for racism, but I do believe in eugenics, as it is one of the foundations of a society which is always moving toward higher goals.
Heredity is more important than inculcated values, but this applies not only to races, but to tribes, to castes, to local groups and to individuals. One problem I have with the racists is that they believe all individuals are equal, presupposing their origins in a certain general racial group; that’s insane to my mind. Not every “white” person is someone I’d let survive; in fact, at this point in history, most “white” people need to be killed because they’re worthless, brainless, spiritless products of industrial existence and have nothing to contribute. My sword is unsheathed for them, because, among my tribe where there is ethnocultural consensus, these people are inferior, simply because: they suck. They’re not very smart, they don’t have good character, and they lack the impetus to do anything but go to do-nothing jobs and boss others around with rules written on sheets of paper. Off with their heads, and let’s murder their children too: nothing good comes of such a seed. Hell, we have seven billion people on earth, and all but a few million are worthless followers. Fewer people means more forest, more fish, more ecosystem and more animals; what are we waiting for?
Eugenics is very real. One either establishes an ethnocultural consensus and refines every generation toward a better version of this, producing smarter-nobler-healthier people, or one stagnates and because time marches on, devolves, becoming less adapted to the changes in environment that fluctuate in cycles as a means of encouraging evolution. I prefer the heroic outlook, which is to realize the individual is not a world in itself, but a small piece of the whole, and thus to place individual pretense and safety as secondary to having a healthy and positively-evolving society. Eugenics is very real. It’s not the only question, but it’s a necessary tool of a society which achieves logical ethnic-cultural unity. And ultimately, everyone benefits, as the children who are born in the future are smarter, healthier and of better character, thus they struggle less with low self-esteem than the bloated products of mixed-caste, mixed-race, low-achievement breeding. Put this way, you have to ask yourself, what would you rather do, doom future generations to insufficiency or make sure those children are well-bred and happy? I prefer the latter, and I’m not the only one, but among those who fear their own failure more than they aspire to fulfilling their life’s destiny, you find a prevailing opinion: all genetics are okay, all individuals are okay, just don’t do anything that might show any of us in a bad light, please!!! — that is the way of the coward, and the undifferentiated crowd, and any type of evolving person has no use for it.
This is just a taste of the philosophies that make life meaningful. Right now, people cower in fear of many things, and as a result, have built a society based on convenience under the pretense of avoiding suffering and making everyone “equal.” This is the public veneer, but underneath it, the real motivation is utilitarianism: from fear of our own worth, we hand judgment over to the crowd; the price of this devil’s bargain is that we can never again choose a direction, least of all a higher direction, because it will “offend” someone or make them feel inferior. And the effect is manifest: where’s the Beethoven for this age? The Nietzsche? The Michelangelo? The Caesar? All we have are sniveling cowards for leaders and “artists” and “philosophers” who write about trends so they can profit and have houses in the suburbs. The signs of decline are evident, and while race isn’t the cause, it’s a symptom and one that we can fix. Further, it’s important to realize that racial separation is not an issue by itself, but part of a general program of breeding that includes division by tribe, caste, and finally, eugenics applied to individuals themselves.
Dividing by tribe allows each tribe to have its own way of doing things; this is the only way to achieve the consensus necessary for any kind of upward-mobile society. It is this alone, and not some ego-stroking belief in being “superior” or “inferior” for being member of a group, that is the reason for racial separation – not racial antagonism. I’ll continue to care about my gay, African-American, Hispanic, Asian, Jewish friends, but I will also continue to care first and foremost about myself and my people, for whom separation is required for survival. Don’t let the crass racists confuse you – you can acknowledge your own preference for your own people without falling into hate, bigotry, and other forms of masturbatory self-image enhancement.
Tuesday, January 11th, 2005
We live in a society of the ego. The individual is king, and there’s no higher goal than saving a life, or finding a new way to respect the lifestyle choices of others. While to anyone who has studied history, this is like steering a ship by having each oarsman row in different directions, to the moderns, it’s a fact of life. One sticky aspect of this attitude is that you cannot promote a philosophy or an ideal without it being associated with a person; this person forms the symbol of this system of thought, and the identifying marker by which we all refer to it. “As Aristotle said…”
It’s possible this would be true in any age, and that now it is made more dominating by the tendency of people to identify themselves with what they own: jobs, status, houses and even belief-systems. Thus an attack on the philosophy is an attack on them personally, and any praise for the philosophy they interpret as a gratifying acknowledgement that they are indeed right and the rest of the world is wrong, wrong, wrong. Call it the absolutism of human form, or simply the marketing of humanism, but it’s a fact of life that in the current time any belief system is expected to have a cult of personality around it.
However, what’s really important isn’t the person presenting the philosophy, as they are bringing an idea but are not the idea itself, but how well the idea fits into one’s own worldview, and what it means. People are born, they do some things right and fail at some, and then they die, and rot, and are no more. A philosophy, if correctly adapted to the reality in which we live, is eternal, in that it will always be true even if the people who created it are dead and gone, and the books in which it is written are burned. The idea is more real than the flesh which serves as its messenger.
Perhaps the most important idea this column can uphold, then, is that any idea that you find meaningful only exists so long as you act upon it; it may always be true, but what’s the use of a true idea not manifested on earth? If it addresses our collective effort at survival here on planet earth, and it is realistic if not an altogether better way of doing things, it should be brought from the level of idea to the level of flesh, and you do this by acting on it and exhibiting its values in your daily life.
If someone gives you a choice, and one option goes against what you believe, don’t take that option – you don’t have to tell them why, but that you reject it alone is enough to start bringing that idea to earth. You will be given a chance to design certain things in your life, whether the configuration of your home or your activities or even, at a job or volunteer effort, the ability to organize people according to an interpretation of some task. Use your principles; these don’t have to be explicit, and involve symbols or even any statement of the philosophy, but they should uphold its values in every form.
For example, you might oversee a volunteer crew who maintain the grounds of a historical building. Clearly it doesn’t make sense to declare the group a Traditionalist organization and give them swords, commanding them to kill populist Christians and liberals, as you’ll be immediately replaced, but it does make sense to ensure that they leave behind no trash, do their task efficiently and with honor, and endorse in no way any of the degenerate values of this time. You may not be able to enforce your ideals in whole, such as having the entire team be of your ethnocultural origin, but you can make sure they do not engage in any unnecessary behavior affirming the opposite of your goals.
This is a short essay, thus it will conclude, as many writers in a hurry have done so in the past, with the words of another: “Anything I have learned, I have learned from the forest. Despite my fortune in having a good education, and wise people with whom to discuss my ideas, I was most lucky to be able to spend the years of my youth reading the classics and then, in the afternoons, to go into the forest with nothing to amuse me but my mind and what I could observe. From that I learned the design and order of the universe as a living whole, and if there is anything in what I write that my readers find accessible, they must remember that it originates entirely in that whole. The forest is a higher authority than any man, and if you rest your future in one man alone, you will be disappointed when he inevitably crumbles into dust, but if you trust the what you learn in a forest, truth will always be with you. Remember this when you read my words, because I am only the hand holding the pen.”