Contending with Reality
February 27th, 2018
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge (1520–24) by Giulio Romano. Roman politics after the Emperor Diocletian abdicated in AD 305 was confusingly complicated as emperors and deputy emperors of the West and of the East contended for power. The Battle of the Milvian Bridge was one of a succession of victories that in AD 324 made Constantine master of the entire Roman Empire, but it is most famous for its link with his conversion to Christianity, which would prove to be one of the most important events in world history.
1. The centrality of the archetypical hero's myth
You don’t want a solution to a problem you want to solution to your problems. It is a leap of abstraction. Is there a way of conceptualizing the set of all problems that are universal? That is what religious stories try to do and they try to do it using drama. The meta problem is that the problem is so complex so we don’t know how to formulate it. It is something like what is the problem of life? The problem of life is that we are finite and mortal (suffering). Life is essentially tragic. It is little us against infinity. And we lose. Not only do we lose but we lose in a manner that produces a tremendous amount of suffering.
The next problem is that the previous problem is not the worst problem. The worst problem is that tragedy and malevolence exists in the world. And makes the first problem worse for everyone in the world. It is universally true for everyone all the time. That is archetypical. When you formulate a situation—archetypically—you speak about it in a manner that is eternally true. There are lots of ways that you and I differ. But there are many ways in which we are the same. That is what constitutes our humanity. Like you, I am mortal and our life is finite. My existence is characterized by suffering. And I have to contend with the fact that there is evil in the world—it is the terribly destructive character of the natural world, it is the tyrannical element of the social world, and it is the adversarial element of myself and every other individual (malevolent problem). You can say this is the mythic landscape: Good and evil in a world of chaos and order.
So how do you comport yourself in this world? That is where the idea of the archetypical hero emerges. It is the person whose eyes are open and who his speech is true, and who faces both the chaos of the unknown and the tyranny of the known and balances them. That is the antidote to the problem. That is the meta-solution to the meta-problem.
How to solve the conundrums associated with a multicultural world and immigration? My suggestion is that it is a very complex problem. There is not a solution. But the solution to a very complex problem is that you should be a better person than you are because you would be better at solving complex problems. And lots of them are coming your way so get your act together. That is burdening people with excess responsibility so that can be a crushing message. You are not who you could be so get your act together. You are whining away in the corner and you are doing no good to yourself or anyone else. It is harsh. But there is another element to that which is there is way more to you than you think you are. And you have something necessary and vital to contribute to the world and if you don’t contribute then things will happen that is not good for you or anybody else. It is not that you need to do this because it is your responsibility but you need to understand that there is not anything better that you can do for yourself or for anyone else. People are dying to hear that message.
The hero's myth resonates with young men; it has to resonate. That which you most need will be found where you least want to look.
There is something about being a monster that has to be transmuted into something good. To be good I do not need to be a neutered tomcat. I can be a monster. But I can be a civilized monster. You should be unbelievably dangerous and the more dangerous the better, but you should control that.
Morality is contained capacity for mayhem.
Most of what passes for morality is just obedient cowardice (Frederick Nietzsche and Carl Jung).
No one wants to be called an obedient coward, so they’ll be like "well I am a good person because I do not break any rules". No, no you’re not. You are an obedient coward. You are too afraid to break the rules. This also accounts for why the antihero, the dark hero, is so popular in (somatic) and cinematic representations in particular. For example, Quentin Tarantino‘s movies or mafia movies. You are not moral if you’re just harmless. What is the antidote to being harmless? The antidote is to open up that doorway into the shadow. Then you can become that. But the highest form of victory is peace. Anyone with any wisdom regards peace as a goal. Armed opponents respect one another is real peace.
Sidebar Commentary: If the highest form of victory is peace, then you should pursue peace at all costs.
Three characteristics of the archetypal hero:
- They talked very little and if they talk they talked very decisive
- They rarely raise their voice and if they do it’s for their troops to hear it
- Fiercely monogamous and that they are extremely loyal to one woman.
You should conduct yourself so that you are attractive to many women, maybe have your pick of them, but you should pick one. And that is a sacrifice.
The archetypical hero: One descends into the underworld, you go where you least want to look, you face the dragon goddess of chaos, you fight with all you have and a little bit more, and if you survive you retrieve something of supreme value and you escort it back to daylight and you share it with everyone else.
2. The central role of the Logos during the hero's narrative.
Logos is the capacity to articulate undifferentiated chaos into habitable order that is good. The creative force, God, employs this process, the logos, to attract habitable order from chaotic potential. He uses logos to do it. And logos is truthful speech. This is the deepest idea of the west and the deepest religious idea. There is a way to bring order into being that makes the order good. That is to bring it into being through spoken truth. You can extract new being into potential through lying but it is hellish. Hellish order. Generally speaking, it is tyrannical order. In a true tyranny, everyone lies about everything all the time. It is the very definition of social pathologies. If you cannot say what you think then you do not know who you are.
The logos is as old as humanity itself. It is the central process by which human beings flourish in the world. It is as old as higher consciousness. Law is predicated on the logos. We have individual sovereignty in the west. The rules encounter a boundary that hits the individual. Even if everyone knows you committed a crime, until you are tried and proven guilty you were treated with dignity.
We want to get along. We have to trust each other. So, we test each other a little bit. I reveal something about myself. Maybe you have some sense and listen. And you do the same. It was balanced and fair. So there is reciprocity. And we can each be relied upon. Now I can rely on you, great. Now we can go off and do something more difficult together. And that binds us together even more tightly. Logos. This is the process of articulating chaos into order. We are mediating in the space between us. There is chaotic potential here. by having these discussions, we are reshaping the potential that lives in front of us into something actual. And we are determining, with every gesture, every word, what that order is going to be. And we are doing that all the time with people.
Potential has no reality. It is only potential. We all act as if potential is real and it could be transformed by our choices. This could mean you’re not articulating order into chaos or you are not standing up to tyranny. In the story of Christ, he is more of a combatant of tyrannical order then articulating chaos into order. The hero is always doing one of those two things.
The Logos is indistinguishable from the divinity of the individual. It is the divine principle of the individual. What is the phenomenological status of that? You experience that as a sense of meaning when you were doing something meaningful, People feel it in the metaphysical way of the intimations of immortality (listening to music, engaging in sexual intercourse, traditions, being in the flow of work—you make contact the part of you that feels infinite in scope, mystical), and people have strived to experience these things throughout human history. I am not necessarily engaging and metaphysical speculation. The Divine is good enough, transcendence.
I do believe that there is a metaphysical reality to the experiences of the intimations of the mortality and divine unity that people are capable of having. I believe they are reflective of a deeper reality. You don’t have to believe that to view this from a pragmatic perspective.
You wake up every morning and realize that you have a Logos. I can bring order from chaos. I can explore territory and bring it into my map of the world. There is chaos to encounter and monsters to fight.
This is more fun than anything else.
3. Making the right sacrifices when bargaining with the future
The problem with impulsive things is that they are really good right now but you are dead tomorrow. If it is impulsive now and you are dead in here and that is not a really good solution. So, you are founded by the necessity of preserving yourself across time. But that is not the only boundary. And not only has to be good for you but it has to be good for the people around you in ever widening concentric circles.
An example: If you are at a party and you are behaving in a good way people will want to be around you and listen to your jokes, people will tell you interesting things and if you’re off the path then they will not want to be around you and will frown at you. People are signaling chaos and an order around you all the time. Everyone is broadcasting at everyone else all the time. Always. To align yourself with the highest good is to figure out how to conduct yourself so that all things are working as well as the can because of what you’re doing right now. "You’re aiming at this... doesn’t mean you can do it... and you get better at doing it".
While you’re doing that you concentrate on the day so you pay real attention to the moment. Orient yourself properly so you’re looking in the right direction. So you’re aiming at the right thing, then concentrate locally (sermon on the mount message).
There are things that you’re doing that you may have to stop doing as you’re aiming (drinking, partying, etc.). There are lots of things you will need to stop doing because they are in incommensurate with the goal. You need to make the sacrifices necessary. There are no differences between making sacrifices and transforming. They are the same thing.
The flood is a metaphor for natural atrophy. Things fall apart. By making the right sacrifices you can build the ark to withstand the decay around you.
There will be stress around you but it’s made worse with unresolved stress around family. That is why you need to get your house in order. If you have more pieces of stress you will start to make mistakes and the whole order that you built around you will turn into chaos.
There is always a snake in the garden but goodwill restricts malevolence. The goal is to make it as good as you can make it with your honest attempt to do so. And that is good enough.
Noah was perfect in his generations. Because he was a good man he had structured his family in a manner that is healthy and sustaining. So that when all hell broke loose, the arc was there and ready. And that is a lesson. You are going to hit things in your life that causes terrible suffering and chaos.
You’re in real trouble. You have these terrible physical illnesses and there’s something worse. You’re going to be tempted to use your illnesses as an excuse to not engage in life. And it’s going to be hard to tell when you can’t do something because you’re sick and when it would just be convenient of you to use your illness as an excuse for not doing it. If you ever do then you’ll not only be sick physically but sick spiritually. And you’ll be done. Don’t ever play victim.
"Don’t interfere with whatever was within her that would have been able to manage this."
Treat someone, even when little kid, as if they are capable of wisdom. Ask hard questions and bring them into the conversation (how should we structure the house, how should chores be distributed), and don’t (try) to play tricks on them. By time they are a teenager, they turn into a rock. Help people. Stayed around the house. Didn’t create any extra trouble and if they did then they didn’t involve others in it, accept the fact that we don’t have enough time to spend with him as we’d like to, let others rely on them. Make sacrifices. No complaining.
4. Orienting yourself towards the highest possible good you can conceive (tell the truth)
It is the deepest of the higher instincts. What constitutes meaning is the right balance between chaos and order. This is harmony. Paradise on earth. The highest possible good constitutes meeting.
There are truths of drama and literature. And there are material truths of science.
Literal and metaphorically true.
Contending with tragedy and manevolence is meaning. Accept it. Transcend it. Then transmute it.
Align your soul with the structure of being. This is the same thing you do when you’re dancing with someone. Think of an orchestra, people who are highly specialized pushing the boundaries of their capability. There is the individual, there is a group, and there is the aggregation of the group, and then there is the conductor who is the king.
He’s making sure that all of the skillful players play their part harmoniously. And then they are laying out pattern upon pattern upon pattern and are modeling the structure of reality because that is what reality is — pattern upon pattern upon pattern all harmoniously when working nicely, all harmony from the lowest subatomic level up to the top. That is what music is modeling.
And then there’s society, and that’s all the dancers, they’re all weaving in and out of each other’s territory smoothly and without conflict because they’re paying attention.
That is society dancing to the tune that the king is conducting for the orchestra of being.
Then there’s the dyad, the two people, who are paying attention to each other, and matching their bodies to one another and delighting in the [stack] harmony. They’re acting out the proper mode of being — they’re dramatizing it. Refreshing and beautiful. Dramatized example of how you should live if you want to make things better and not worse. That’s the pathway. It’s not follow the rules.
Without the rules you can’t coexist and you can’t have discipline.
What does it mean to align your soul to the essence of being? Do what is meaningful not what is expedient (plan, ulterior motive).
The thing about telling the truth that is so adventurous is that you let go of what you want. And you replace it with a hypothesis. And the hypothesis is faith. Because you do not know what you want. If I tell the truth as carefully as I can then whatever happens is the best I could have possibly happened in that situation no matter how it works. It is adventurous. That is the thing that is so fun about it.
Didn’t not deny the utility of following the rules, which is discipline. And in some sense you have to be a slave to discipline.
Telling the truth is dynamic because you don’t know what is going to happen. And you don’t care. You assume that whatever happens is the right thing.
God employing the logos to create habitable order and saying that it was good. That is the deepest reflection of that idea. The idea is the being that you speak forth from potential with truth is good. How do you set things right? Tell the truth.
When you speak the truth your soul is indestructible. But the archetype is that they all die at the end. Socrates, Maximus, Leonidas.
Socrates was asking people questions and people do not know the answer to the questions and that was disturbing to them.
The difference between me and all other man is that when my conscious tells me not to do something I stop. It doesn’t tell me what to do. It tells me what not to do and then I don’t do it. No matter what.
That part of the spirit doesn’t die. It dies when it corrupts itself. There’s something worse than death. That is the death of your soul.
There would be conditions in which it would be better not to live. That is the cry for freedom. Life without truth is hell. That’s the right way of looking at it.
5. Minimize your persona, cultivate your essence, and live in its closest possible proximity.
As an example, the "professional suit" is a persona. At a bank, people want to interact with the suit, not with the person. You want to say hello, you want to be polite, and you want to leave.
You have to have a public face for your complexity and you have to simplify yourself so that other people can interact with you. It’s politeness. It’s politeness to do that and politeness not to poke behind that unless other people ask — this is part of being civilized and domesticated. That’s the downside. Because it’s also the part that exposes you to tyranny. You go from the state of nature to the possession of the persona. If you are too persona then you are too tied to the state to the culture and there is nothing individual about you. The individual spirit hasn’t been integrated into your personality. So you have to go be on the persona but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to have one. If you don’t know how to behave then you don’t have a persona and people won’t stand or could not stand being around you. If you only know how to behave then you're a domesticated house cat or like house dog. You have to push beyond the persona.
That’s what the integration of the shadow days from the Jungian perspective, to pull that monster — that has been edited out of you — back in. And to allow that is to reveal itself within your increasingly sophisticated way of being.
You cannot escape from your persona unless you can say no. For example: the only reason Harry Potter can stand up against evil is because there is evil within him. If you are a persona than you are an obedient citizen. The problem with being an obedient citizen is that if the society tells you to march the Jews off to the death camp, and you are obedient, then that is what you will do. And it is not that society is civilized and then all of a sudden you’re performing some act of atrocity. You are an obedient citizen and you were asked to violate your conscience just a little bit — you have to because you don’t have anything else other than that persona. That is obedience! So a little more obedience is demanded. Then you are a little bent because society is becoming a little bent. You are a little weaker. Then society asks for you to violate your conscious a little bit more. Then you think, there is a little less of me and the pressure is on a little bit more and I could’ve said no before and I did not, so I say yes again. Then you have 1/3 of a society that is informing on the other 2/3. It is hell. So, how do you say no? Well, that is the shadow.
Once the shadow is incorporated, it is benevolent? Metaphysical problem is why we would allow evil into the world. Maybe God only allowed the possibility of evil into the world. And what if the possibility of evil in the world is better than no possibility of evil in the world. Maybe a man is better when he is a dangerous man that is being good than if he would just be a good man who is capable of being dangerous.
The best men I’ve ever met are very dangerous men. You do not mess with them. And you know that as soon as you meet them. Can weak men be virtuous? No. When you’re weak, it’s signals that you do not have the option to sin. It is something that creates resentment and resentment creates corruption. This is a theological question... This is tied up with free will and evil. Can a person who doesn’t have the option to be evil be good? I would say no.
The question of why is there evil in the world is a constant question. It’s possible that without the possibility of evil there cannot be good. Good requires the possibility of evil. Maybe good is so good that the fact that it requires a possibility of evil acceptable, maybe even desirable. You end up at the edge of your knowledge when talking about such things. But it seems to me to be right. And it seems to be right in a lived sense.
Jocko Willink is psycho-physiologically intimidating. All that capacity for mayhem is part of what makes him a good person.
Have they all been not good men before? Or is that part of becoming a good man? Healthy adolescents break rules. How extreme does the rule breaking become? It varies from person to person. Most of them were more at the end of the rule breaking spectrum. They broke more rules than normal. But they clued in, explored it, and decided it was better than cowardice and weakness, but not as good as what is good. This is promoting masculine strength (across sexes: men and women).
Would never use the word empower (assumes victim). Instead, encourage people — put courage into them (become courageous). By becoming courageous you increase your potential for being virtuous. "The meek shall inherit the earth". Meek does not mean what is means now, what it means when people first translated it (or it was a mistranslation).
Meek sounds powerless or harmless. It is the derivation of the word or translation of a word that meant something like "those who have swords and know how to use them but choose to keep them sheathed will inherit the world.".
- Young men don’t hear words of encouragement. That is why are they hearing it on YouTube. It’s important to develop themselves. Power is competence.
- Women who have had their relationships impaired with men will settle for a weak partner.
- I am not going to cede the linguistic territory to the radical leftists, regardless if it’s ever put in law.
- Radical leftist ideologues are authoritarian. Group identity is paramount.
- I am only a provocateur that by when I say things I believe to be true they are provocative. I do not provoke.
- Hierarchical structures are a sociological construct of the the western patriarchy. It’s so untrue that it’s almost unbelievable. Hierarchy has nothing to do with socio-cultural construction.
- It is inevitable that there will be continuity in the way animals and human beings organize themselves in structures.
- Your biological nature sets the rules for the game. One thing we cannot do is say that hierarchical organization is a consequence of the capitalist patriarchy. To say otherwise is wrong.
Photo from Wikipedia.org