Getting a Little Conceited, Aren’t We?

Recently the subject of my blogging came up while talking with a friend and his wife.  She asked what my “research” was, and I said I’m mostly an armchair philosopher and observer of social discourse.  I have long since realized that the Truth of any given issue only matters to the extent people believe and act upon it; what people think and say is often far more important than what happens to be true.

Or, as my friend helpfully summed up: I do my research in my living room.

Anyway, after the Super Bowl outcome became a forgone conclusion early on, I continued working my way through Moldbug’s works.

My friend’s wife asked, “Are you reading for your blog?”

I heard: “Are you reading your blog?”

I’m not sure exactly how I responded, but I’m sure I sounded ridiculous, because I was trying to downplay the Donald Glover bit that flashed before my eyes:

I’ve been doing stuff with music…and I just put out an EP.  And I was listening it to my car, I picked up…I was like, I want to see how it sounds in the car.  And I picked up a friend of mine, and she got in.  She was like, “Is this you?”  And I was like, “Yeah.”  And she goes, “You listen to your own music?”  I was like, “Yeah, yeah, I listen to my own music!”

Being an entertainer is the only job where you can’t enjoy your own stuff.  Did you know that?  It’s the only job where you can’t enjoy your own shit.  Like, if I made sandwiches for a living…like if I worked at Subway, and I made sandwiches for a living, and then I go home, and make myself a sandwich, nobody’s gonna be like, “Getting a little conceited, aren’t we!?”  Donald Glover, Weirdo (6:30-8:10)

I know they didn’t get to share my own amusement at the confusion and Donald Glover’s bit, so now here it is, for them and everyone else to share!

Time to Focus

I have reason to use the word “Serendipity” about once a day.  Although it seems unlikely, the reason is a spin off the old saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation and chance coincide.”  I pay attention to a lot of things, and when one casts one’s nets often and wide, one is certain to catch things frequently.

And so it was that today an article came across my screen that caught my sentiments of late perfectly:

Every fall, I explain to a fresh batch of Ph.D. students what a Ph.D. is.

It’s hard to describe it in words.

So, I use pictures.

Read below for the illustrated guide to a Ph.D.

Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty:

A master’s degree deepens that specialty:

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

Once you’re at the boundary, you focus:

You push at the boundary for a few years:

Until one day, the boundary gives way:

And, that dent you’ve made is called a Ph.D.:

Of course, the world looks different to you now:

So, don’t forget the bigger picture:

Keep pushing.

The Illustrated Guide to a Ph.D. is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 LicenseThis post originally appeared at Matt Might’s Blog.

For years, I have thought “something is wrong.”  I found A Voice For Men, then The Spearhead, then Heartise, Dalrock and countless others.  For about a year, I soaked all that up.  I had internalized most of what I figured I’d learn from that crowd, when I learned that this was only a smaller cluster of a much larger thing:

darkenlightenment2

Specifically, I stumbled into the Neoreactionaries of the upper left-hand corner.  Depending on your point of view, this crowd either extrapolates the observations of the former bloggers to their logical conclusions, or has worked backwards to find their first principles.  It doesn’t really matter which; this is a whole ‘nother level of thought that has caught my attention.

It shouldn’t take too much explanation to draw the connection between the Ph.D. post and the map above; a huge body of knowledge covering vast ranges of topics is mapped above.  My blog, which originally was just meant to house some of my own original ideas, took an interesting turn as I began to find others who already had reached the same conclusions I was writing about.  Often they had already written about those concepts themselves.  They have almost always done a better job of it than I have.

As I got more interested in this and found more people to interact with, I broke down and started using Twitter both to find other reading material and put my own material out into the ‘sphere.  I added more blogs to my RSS feed reader.  I got more traffic on my own blog, some commentors, and it appears I’m about to engage in a pretty long correspondence with a blogger from the other side of the fence.

Along the way I encountered something I don’t run into very often; my own personal limits.  Writing is much, much more demanding than reading.  I really began to appreciate the different roles people play in this community; the chroniclers, the commentators, the marriage and dating advisers, the theorists, the public-relations/marketing/WTF is Return of Kings? and others.  While it is tempting to want to put my own stamp on a “Theory of Everything” tying it all together, no one person can fill all these roles, and a true Theory of Everything is probably the work of a lifetime, not a beginning blogger.

So, much like the Ph.D.’s above, I realize if I’m going to be productive, it is best not to re-hash what has already been said, but rather pick an area and contribute.  It’s time to focus.  I’ll be writing less, but striving for higher quality.  I’m honored to have one of my series appear in the Neoreactionary Canon, and I think it is best to spend my writing time attempting to continue producing works worthy of keeping around.  My “to-write” list includes:

  • a follow-up to my post-modern progressivism series which will “rewind” back to my thoughts on modernism as well
  • an expansion on my post-modern progressivism series incorporating my recent thoughts on narcissism as its “Final Cause”
  • fulfilling my duties as “Ambassador” to Body Crimes
  • discussing what I see as the practical application of neoreaction vis-a-vis memes and intentional/targeted social cognitive dissonance
  • thoughts on Benedict Anderson’s “Totalizing Classification” and how it relates to nation-states, city-states, Middle Earth, and the United Stated Unified Combatant Commands
  • various applications of neoreactionary thought to military doctrine and culture

To this end, I’ve cleared out my RSS reader to just a few closely related to my own intended areas of writing, and will be staying off Twitter as well.  I’ve also finally conceded that Facebook has become a BuzzFed/Gawkerized echo chamber, very few who post anything there are interested in any actual discussion, and it doesn’t do me a whole lot of good to hang around there either.

While I realize few of the communities/blogs I’m taking a sabbatical from will even notice I left, it seems appropriate and gentlemanly to at least say, “see ya later.”  It has truly been transformational to read you guys, and I hope my own contributions measure up down the line.

Isolation is Part of the Deal

A tweet by C.M. Sturges of Apocalypse Cometh led me to a post on the blog called “Body Crimes:

IS THE RED PILL BAD FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?

Anyone who’s spent much time reading this blog knows that in the past few months, I’ve become entranced by the New Misogynists – bloggers, both male and female, who believe that civilisation started collapsing the day women got the vote. These Manosphere bloggers are themselves part of a wider neo-reactionary movement that’s coming to be known as the Dark Enlightenment, (though it should more properly be called The Extinguishment, because it seeks to overturn the Enlightenment virtues of liberty and suffrage).

Although the more pretentious members of the movement have started to use the term ‘Dark Enlightenment’, most of the everyday bloggers refer to themselves as ‘red pill takers’.

The ‘red pill’ reference comes from The Matrix. If you swallow the red pill, you see the world as it really is. If you swallow the blue pill, you remained plugged in to a comforting dream.

It’s a very funny and perceptive video. One of the most acute things he says is that one side effect of taking the red pill is that people who have swallowed it don’t seem to be very happy: “It may even be a depressant.”

And how right he is. Take a look at the post Red Pill Isolation, from the Apocalypse Cometh blog, where the author, C.M. Sturges, says:

“There’s a common misconception in our little corner of the webz. That exposing yourself to the truth, essentially going down the rabbit hole, is going to make your life better. Nothing could be further from the truth…

You are going to become isolated. Most notably socially but also with your thoughts, opinions and your ability to finally see what surrounds you in this crumbling society.”

Read the rest here:

She appears to be an observer of the orthosphere, and makes some rather level-head analysis of it.  Where I think her analysis needed some extra work was separating “red pill knowledge” from the application of said knowledge.  (See bottom on the role of diagnostician and clinician.)  Since she seemed very cordial with Sturges, so I hazarded a comment to her post.   Reposted in its entirety:

I agree with a large part of your assessment, but I would ask you consider this:

It is a well-known phrase that politics makes strange bedfellows. With the overwhelming degree of uniformity in the mainstream media and culture, it is inevitable that all dissenters will be lumped together as “The Others.” For example, in a world that bases equality of genders on belief in the *sameness* of genders, anyone who dares believe men and women are different is a dangerous heretic. And so you end up grouping together those who favor more traditional approaches to dating with those who believe women shouldn’t have the right to vote.

And so it is absolutely true that daring to question the premises of a culture we don’t believe in brings an incredible amount of intellectual isolation. How could it not? For merely stating an obvious fact, such as women bear children and men don’t, or that men and women tend to exhibit different problem-solving techniques, I am branded a dangerous heretic, or a “misogynist,” in today’s lingo. Interestingly, many of these facts when stated by women are considered laudable, but when stated by men they are detestable. This is usually fueled by fears and assumptions of the other party’s motives:

Woman: “Men and women think differently”: Yes! Celebrate our uniqueness and individuality!
Man: “Men and women think differently”: No! Gender is a social construct! A woman can do anything a man can do!

Facts can be stated by good people and by evil people. The problem is that public discourse has decided to disown any and all facts that could possibly be used as ammunition by evil people. This means that the system has chosen to designate as its enemies not just the “evil” people, but the reasonable ones interested in facts. It is this anti-intellectualism and counter-factualism that has created an environment of intolerance, and has spurred the rise of the “Dark Enlightenment,” “Neoreaction,” “Red Pill.” If you “criminalize” normality, then don’t be surprised when normal people become “criminals.”

Few of us are intent on doing evil. But all of us demand that the facts be heard.

The isolation is lonely. That is part of The Matrix analogy as well; compare the glitz and comforts of the fake world with the drab clothes, gross food, and ugliness of the real world. The analogy is not cherry-picked for its best parts; we accept it as a package deal.

But I’ll also agree with C.M. Sturges. It is liberating to understand that you aren’t going crazy, and others share your observations. We are building a community where we fit in, and finally have an venue to apply our constructive efforts. Don’t overlook the “manosphere’s” huge emphasis on self-improvement. (Nor its contrast with the Jezebel-esque attempts at self-delusion: obese is beautiful, you should be loved for just being you, you’re perfect as you are, etc)

And while I have refrained from the meta-writing impulse to place myself in context of the cosmology of the orthosphere, this seems like a pretty good time to do it.

At present, I consider myself a social diagnostician.  As I said in my intro to the Neoreactionary Canon:

A confluence of sharp minds is taking place on the internet. Intelligent writers covering a wide range of issues have realized that conventional understandings of civilization and its history don’t “work.” The theories fail to hold predictive value. The models are broken. To repurpose an image from one of the original writers:

“It is impossible to enumerate the full list of reasons behind this belief. It’s like asking you why you prefer a romantic candlelight dinner for two at a simple, yet elegant, French restaurant, to being dragged alive behind an 18-wheeler at highway speed until there is nothing on the rope but a bloody flap of skin.” – Mencius Moldbug, “An Open Letter to Progressives,” pg 121

To answer the above question would be difficult, not for lack of reasons, but for an abundance of reasons; it is difficult to decide where to start. Furthermore, the fact that the question was even posed leads the reader to believe that the questioner not only needs an answer, he needs help. Specifically, he needs help so badly that he doesn’t even recognize it.

I commit myself only to the idea that what we are doing isn’t working.  My series on The Revolution and my analysis of Post-Modern Progressivism focus firmly on the ills of the here-and-now.  My conclusions have aligned with those of the neoreaction, and so I am with them thus far.  (Reading Moldbug’s social commentary was like an exercise in reading my own thoughts.)

And yet deciphering what is wrong is a far cry from determining what is right, that is, to be a social clinician.  Several ideas of various levels of unorthodoxy have been proposed.  Serious discussions of monarchy and crypto-tyranny have arisen.  These I treat as interesting thought experiments, but things to which I am not willing to commit.  At the less serious, yet more successful end of the scale, bloggers such as Matt Forney and Return of Kings have inspired amazing levels of awareness and outrage at politically incorrect gender-relations truths.  While seemingly unrelated, Truth is Truth, and if the orthosphere is about the right to speak uncensored truths, than their role in this community cannot be denied.

This post covers a lot of ground, so to recap: Yes, the “red pill experience” entails a lot of intellectual loneliness.  No, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Yes, I align with the neoreaction.  No, I’m not endorsing monarchy.  Yes, I believe the truth about gender relations is suppressed.  Maybe, the way RoK makes their points is rough, but maybe that’s the only way the truths will be heard.  And yes, I will continue to write until I have nothing left to say.

Logo

I came across this picture the other day, and decided to use it at my Twitter icon:

IMG_0668

It is perfect for my blog and what I am setting out to do.

In my Welcome post, I explained the name of my blog: iParallax.  The point I make is excellently seen in the picture above; although different images are projected on the walls, the object itself has only one true form.  Only by viewing both shadows can the true form be deduced.

I am certain that most people using this image will try to draw the opposite conclusion, something that endorses moral relativism, or nihilism in general.  Yet that would be shortsighted. It is true, a person can’t be blamed for being misled by seeing only one image.  But that is why everyone is obligated to seek out more images as they attempt to determine Truth.  To attempt to use this as proof that all point of view are valid is to declare one’s intellectual laziness; to be satisfied with the first vaguely plausible understanding of their environments.

Keep looking.  Keep learning.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Moldbug’s “Open Letter”

I’ve been blogging for only four months.  In that time, I’ve published 73 posts which document years of observations.  While I am by no means prolific, I am certainly churning through years of intellectual backlog, committing my worldview to the written word.

I suspect real-life family, friends, and acquaintances would describe my thoughts as unusual and unorthodox, yet still well thought-out and interesting, which is certainly why they encouraged me to write.

So you can perhaps begin to imagine how utterly surprised I was when I read Mencius Moldbug’s “An Open Letter to Progressives” only to watch him list nearly every single significant crimethought I’ve ever had:

…and several others.

It was a weird experience.  It wasn’t any sort of Revelation; I had been thinking about many of these ideas already, and had already written several down.  Rather, it was a sort of Socratic experience, wherein what I already knew was simply organized through discussion into something more meaningful and useful.

I mentioned to Bryce Laliberte of AnarcoPapist that Moldbug presented no new facts.  By his reaction I assume I came across as a bit arrogant, and this is the forum to correct that and break out exactly what I meant.

A significant number of Moldbug’s point in “An Open Letter to Progressives” are already known and accepted as facts by the average American:

  • The media has a liberal bias
  • The university faculty has a liberal bias
  • The Stuff White People Like phenomenon has been observed since before he wrote this letter
  • Democrats are known for government expansion
  • Government expands and cements itself into society in ways which can never be undone
  • This is achieved through what amount to kickbacks for minorities
  • Republicans promise a small government but never achieve it
  • America has not “won” a war since World War 2.
  • America has arguably not “tried” to win decisively in recent wars
  • “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal…” General Curtis LeMay, on the subject of firebombing cities
  • There is an entire body of knowledge which is known to all yet also suppressed by all; Political Correctness.  True Believers are a minority, but they wield disproportionate amounts of power
  • The American government has grown over time
  • The Constitution is considered a “living document”
  • A significant number of society-shaping decisions in our past have come not from the executive or legislature, but the judiciary

And the list continues.  I suspect the average college graduate at least knows these ideas exist, even if they don’t believe 100% of them.  What Moldbug does is tie a massive amount of “inconvenient kernels of observed political reality” up neatly into a sensible bow that the reader can understand.  This is just like a Socratic dialogue in which the interlocutor simply answers questions from their own knowledge until some new knowledge is obtained.  In Neoreaction in a Nutshell, while first trying to get a handle on all this, I wrote:

2) “Conservatives pass tests by memorizing stolen answers and call this process learning.  Neorectionaries may cheat too, but they read the questions and learn something while marking “C” in question 3.”

If all the above observations are an “answer key” to life, “An Open Letter” served as a peak at the test itself, to see what the answers all mean.

The personal reflection from this is that I have been granted a massive frame of reference thanks to the publishing of the Neoreactionary Canon.  On a personal level, my tendencies towards completionism are satisfied knowing that I can read, find, index, link, and refer to written versions of my own thoughts that have been already written down.  Further, this gives me a lot of freedom to define my own goals more narrowly, so I can write in more detail, and perhaps produce more works that are worth keeping around the community.

It is highly significant that my own introduction to the canon began with the choice between the candlelight dinner and being dragged to death behind a truck.  I have spent years wondering at questions of exactly this nature when faced with confrontations between “official” reality and observable reality.  My series on post-modernism was an attempt  to answer, in a general way, a broad swath of questions which all amounted to, “why did we all choose the truck?”  I had to back up several steps from the various trucks we chose to actually grasp what had happened to us.  In this regard, I suppose I am a diagnostician at heart; driven to understand symptoms and modes of failure more than I am interested (and, indeed, able) to offer recommended solutions.

So I predict I will spend much of my writing time in the near future continuing to analyze the various lethal truck draggings, while keeping the big picture in mind and using it as a reference.  Although the canon is huge, and contains many brilliant thinkers, I believe there are a few connections yet to be made in this Universal Theory of Everything, and I intend to explore them and offer my findings up to the community as I do.

Civil Discussion and Disagreement

Modern politics and the internet itself seem to be powered by outrage.  As they try to defend ever-more extreme positions, they are beginning to double-down on attempts to silence dissent through labelling, name-calling, even the “shaming” they vigorously claim to oppose (that is, when the spotlight is on them.)  The various groups which make up the American Left, having achieved a supremacy over their opponents, are beginning to fragment and turn these tactics towards one another.  It is an amusingly childish spectacle of passive-aggression, hipster obscurity one-upsmanship, and identity-politics posturing that is only going to get more entertaining with time.  On subjects such as feminist racial solidarity to whether or not society unjustly privileges “cis-sexuals,” there can be only one victor.  Identity politics, based on immutable things such as race and gender, can never assimilate or compromise with the out-group; they can only marginalize and eliminate.  In this winner-takes-all arena, there is no point in civil discussions, and outrage and ostracism are always the first tools pulled from the box.

In contrast, I’ve found the supposedly backward, outrageous, pick-your-insult ring of bloggers I follow to be a surprisingly civil community.  Ideas are discussed openly, and while the knowledge is certainly used to obtain some diametrically opposed goals, there is a respect between the various authors.  One of the tensions in the community is between the religious, who see our special school of applied sociology as a means to clean out and restore society and the Church, and the a-religious, who use their understanding for hedonistic purposes, to maximize their fiddling as Rome burns.  And yet, as opposed as they are in goals and worldview, there is still respect:

I have great respect for Roissy, for Heartiste, and for Dalrock. I even have a fair amount of respect for GBFM. We are all part of the same great cultural battle for the mind and soul of the West, which has been deeply corrupted by Marxism, by equalitarianism, by secular humanism, by atheism, and by feminism. But the fact that GBFM’s heart may be more or less in the right place does not excuse the abandonment of the truth.     -Alpha Gameplan, Response to GBFM

To have found and participated in such a community has been both intellectually stimulating and personally rewarding.  It stands in stark contrast to the daily beating of the war-drums to rally the zombie-ideologue troops for a brainless fight against “the enemy.”

While the original intent behind my blogging was very introspective, mostly committing my observations, both humorous and serious, to writing, I’ve enjoyed the growing dialogue in this corner of the internet.  I have no idea where it’s going to end up, but I’m sure I’ll be smarter for participating, whichever way it goes.

New Page: The Library

Just a quick post: since I’m doing far more original writing and commentary than I first envisioned, I don’t believe I’ll have time to do many book reviews.  However, I still want to list and credit the many great things I’ve read and enjoyed, so I have set up The Library.  At first it will mostly be a list with links to Amazon, but as I reference or review these books, those posts will be linked from The Library as well.