Mar 16 • 50M

Marooned in the Deepest Darkness of the Ultimate Nightmare Abyss with Zero HP Lovecraft

Passage Prize, Reading, Writing, Literacy, Elitism, and Metaphysics

Zero HP Lovecraft
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In which I attempt to speak
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This is episode one, on reading, writing, metaphysics, literacy, and elitism

Having read so many of your original stories, I wanted to share my thought process for judging, and explain how I think about stories 

There are of course the bare concerns regarding prose quality, or technical skill in the management of pacing, framing, foreshadowing, and these types of things

For a story to be good, all of these things must be good.

And for many aspiring writers, they are still struggling with these fundamentals of composition. 

Indeed, this is a lifelong struggle, because we can always find ways to improve our technical abilities

There is no trick to improving at this; you must spend time reading good books, and you must practice copying their structure and flow.

But when you are starting out, it is a common pitfall to be too ambitious

Do not begin by trying to write the great novel of your life, or by imitating intricate stories that cleverly break the rules of composition

Modern and post-modern stories have violently rejected such things as narrative structure, and so they make poor models

The artfulness of a writer like Barthes or Pynchon or Wallace can only exist as an adjunct to the classical forms of storytelling which they subvert

But aspiring writers tend to mistake such colorful detours for the main road, 

and they end up writing from a place of insincerity because they are trying to capture a certain feeling these writers have given them without understanding the source of that feeling

It is easy to mock technically deficient writing, but in truth, technically competent writing is table stakes

the real game begins only once you are seated at the table

The real game is played in a metaphysical arena — now this word, metaphysics, this may be a vague word, it’s not always clear what people mean by it, but the definition I will offer you today is a bit different to what you will find on wikipedia

If the plot of the story is the “what” of it — as I have said before, it is not is not just a sequence of events, but a sequence of human events, a sequence of intentions and emotions — 

Then the metaphysics of the story is the “why” — it is the level of mechanics which governs the physics

To make it clear, here is an example from the passage prize submissions

My purpose here is not to insult, so to the author of this story, I thank you for submitting it; it was technically competent, you made it through the gate. And I am not trying to pick on you. I hope you will keep writing.

There was a story I read about an arrogant chef who ran a Michelin star restaurant. In the story, the chef does not believe in the possibility of gluten intolerance. One of his guests indicates a gluten allergy, and he lies to her about serving her special food to accommodate her, because he believes that spoiled yuppies make up food allergies for attention.

Halfway through her meal, the gluten intolerant guest goes into anaphylactic shock. This is perhaps not realistic, but this is beside the point. As the paramedics take the gluten-intolerant girl away to the hospital, the chef hears her mutter something under her breath, and he thinks she says the word “fatter”

In his own mind this was some kind of a witchcraft curse — the chef becomes ravenously hungry, eating all the food in his walk-in refrigerator, overindulging when he should be tasting, eating gallons of ice cream, donuts, he needs to be snacking constantly.

He gains a hundred pounds in a matter of weeks but nothing can sate his appetite. So he finds the girl’s number from his reservation list and calls her and asks her if she cursed him — she tells him she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. 

But his appetite and his physical deterioration have begun to cause real problems for him. His restaurant food quality declines and he loses the respect of his staff. So he calls the girl again and he begs her to meet with him, which she does.

She tells him she doesn’t know anything about curses but that she thinks he is suffering from bad karma owing to his own self-knowledge of his guilt for poisoning her. She says he should apologize to her and try to make amends in order to fix his karma. He does so and immediately his hunger is satisfied, and his life returns to normal

Now, is this a good story?

It is simplistic, maybe, if we are blunt, it is a bit childish. But that is not a mark against it. In fact, the simplicity of this story makes it perfect to illustrate what I mean by metaphysics. 

I have just related the plot of the story. To be succinct, we could say this story is about about a man who fails to show sufficient consideration for his fellow, and who suffers a consequence for it, and who finds redemption. 

If we put it like this, it sounds like it might be a very good story, even a Christian story. But this is not so.

Because if we look closer, we must ask more questions: what is the man’s sin, specifically? Who or what is the thing that punishes him? And finally, what is the source of his salvation? 

His sin is that he is a chef who ignores a food allergy. Some allergies can be very deadly. A chef is entrusted with the care of his patrons, and here, the chef violates that trust. So this is, genuinely, an immoral action. He is guilty at least of dishonesty.

But now, where does his punishment come from? At first it is implied to be a curse, so it comes from the person he has wronged. But then later we see that it was all in his head, there was no curse. The punishment came from his own mind, from his own conscience.

We could say that God spoke to him through his conscience, but this is not what the story implies. At most it appeals to an impersonal cosmic force, to karma. But in truth, if we read the story literally, the punishment came from himself, from his own heart. 

And how does he find redemption? By the same path—his apology to the girl is a repentance to alleviate his own guilt. The story makes this clear. 

The curse was a punishment he imposed on himself, subconsciously. He is his own god, and therefore, if he felt no guilt, there would be no sin

This is the first metaphysical lens we can look through. What we may call the “soteriological frame” — what is the sin, what is the punishment, what is the salvation?

The moral universe of this story is that of a secular humanist. God and sin are socially constructed, purely psychological abstractions. There are many, even on the far right, who might agree with this model.

There are some who would even say this is a Nietzschean model, but this is not so.

In Nietzsche’s moral universe, the purpose of Man must be to aim at something which is GREATER and HIGHER than Man. But this story aims at nothing. There is nothing higher than the man.

Yes, the story invokes “karma,” but it is not some transcendental moral obligation according to hindu cosmology — it is only a mirror to the protagonist’s own internal states

So we see that this is neither a Christian, nor a Nietzschean story. No — this is a humanist story, a story where human feelings are ontologically primary.

Moreover, it is a deeply feminine story. Woman’s moral universe is entirely bounded by her own emotions, her feelings at the present moment.

In fact, humanist morality is fundamentally feminine.

And now, we can go even further. This humanist metaphysic is the foundational layer of the story, but now in the current year, it is surmounted by a second layer, which may call the intersectional frame

In this analysis, we disregard questions of sin and salvation, because the answers are fixed and implicit in humanist frame.

Instead we ask the questions which define so called “woke” morality, which you may have seen abbreviated as “who, whom?”

In the intersectional frame, we take the particulars of each character’s race and sex and so forth, and we interpret them as universal statements about all people who exist in those categories.

We ask “who is doing what, and to whom are they doing it?”

In this story we see that there are two characters, and they are both implicitly white, so there is no racial component, though one can always be manufactured out of a conspicuous absence

The most important thing to observe in this frame is that this story is about a man who fails to respect a woman.

And moreover, he blames the woman for cursing him, but we discover she was innocent. 

And even further, when he goes to her for redemption, she cannot give it to him, she is not his savior, but he must repent TO HER regardless.

This is a perfect encapsulation of intersectional feminism: women have no agency, they are sacred innocents, and man sins against them, but they have no power to forgive, rather, a man must redeem himself by aligning himself with the feminine metaphysic

Notice also the nature of his sin, in this case, its that the woman has requested special consideration on the basis of an idiosyncratic weakness she possesses 

— though it is true that some people can be harmed by gluten, it is a mathematical certainty that the majority of gluten disrespectors are participating in a psychosomatic diet fad, a kind of mass hysteria which has been largely supplanted by long covid and transgenderism and so on

In any case, we see that this story is humanist, feminist, and anti-christian, despite it’s seemingly unobjectionable themes of guilt and apology.

The underlying “trick” of the intersectional frame — 

The trick of all “critical” readings — 

Is to treat the story as an allegory for the interplay between various “revolutionary” identities, and to anthropomorphize them, 

as if each race and sex and class is a single individual in your hunter-gatherer tribe

In this way, each category is reduced to a dyad consisting of the reader and the identity-group-as-individual

And in this way we are tricked into feeling a sense of social obligation to an identity class, even though this is non-sequitur

We are told it is bigoted if we reduce individuals to their identity group

But we are also blackmailed into treating identity groups as individuals

It is tempting here to say that we are overthinking it— that no one performs a conscious analysis in this way, or that a story can be just a story, and we do not need to project all of these allegorical political neuroses onto it

But this is wrong in two ways:

First, it is wrong on critical theory’s own terms, which claims that these kinds of power relations are necessarily primary in all social interactions. 

You may disagree, you may think that critical theory is a poisonous way to view the world—and you are correct—

But if you think that, and yet you still engage in the power discourse of critical theory, which demands that we make atonement for injustices against race or sex

Then you are acting as a useful idiot on behalf of critical theory, you are reinforcing its moral calculus while denying that you are doing so

Perhaps you are confused, or perhaps you are lying to yourself — oh the wokeness, the wokeness has gone too far — many people say this but they still agree, IN PRINCIPLE with its moral demands

They may object to the procedural level of humanist, egalitarian politics — but they are still sleeping because they have not found the space in their soul to reject its metaphysical claims

But now, again, you may ask: Why can’t a story be just a story?

This is wrong in a second way: because critical theory is right in its assumption that all stories are didactic

The stories that we tell each other teach us how to think about other people, about moral desert, about right and wrong

And the reason so many people subscribe to intersectional morality — even while remaining ignorant of its metaphysical claims —

Is that we are saturated in stories which operate in its moral universe

The stories we learn — the who, whom of them, the nature of sin and salvation — all of these things are implicit in every sitcom and every movie and every children’s cartoon

So they become automatic

And if you learn to ask these questions I am showing you —

If you learn to read the metaphysical claims of the stories in your life —

You realize that almost all modern storytelling privileges the feminine moral frame that we have just seen in this story about the chef and the gluten WHORE

~

The above is by no means exhaustive. 

We have learned two ways to examine the metaphysical content of a story, and we have seen how even a very simple story contains such a payload.

We conduct this examination in the soteriological frame by asking: what is the sin? What is the punishment? What is the source of salvation?

Note that a story can be Christian even if the source of salvation is not literally God. We are sensitive to allegory and parable.

But we pay special attention when the source of salvation is a human or worst of all, a woman. 

The second frame we learned is the intersectional; here we ask, WHO is the sinner, and WHO is the redeemer? 

You can see how, in the intersectional frame, the sinner is supposed to be a person from a “privileged” identity group — white, male, healthy, and normal, as opposed to colored, female, queer, and disabled.

The great irony of the intersectional oppression stack is that it inverts the meaning of the word “privilege” — to call someone privileged is a method of disprivileging them.

The new religion elevates blacks over whites because whites are privileged — what this means is that whites have fewer rights than blacks, that whites are deliberately disprivileged

— and this is said to be fair according to the playground logic of “let your little sister have a turn”

Colloquially we call this “putting your thumb on the scale” 

— but let us backtrack a bit

Ideally we would like to hear and tell only stories that reject the feminist metaphysic: the story should “center” white, male, and sexually normal voices. 

Usually the main character of a story is a sinner. That means the sinner will usually be a man, but if his sin is against women, brown, or queers, then the story has AIDs

In a good story, the sin should never be racism, or sexism, or any such thing as this. In fact those things are not sins. And we should never promote a story where these things are sins.

To do so is to reinforce liberal, queer, egalitarian theories

And we desire to reject these things ROOT and BRANCH.

Many people are eager to reject the excesses of liberalism but they do not understand what they are rejecting

They do not understand HOW to reject it. 

We do this by rejecting the moral underpinnings of liberal thought—humanism, feminism, and egalitarianism

If we see a story that is built on these metaphysical foundations, that is a bad story, even if it is well written

This is how I think about the stories I have judged for the passage prize.

Now we will apply this same analysis to another story, and this is maybe unfair to the previous, because I want to talk about the story that I chose to win

That story is called Georgia Buddha, and it is an intricate story, I will say it is a breathtaking story.

I read it again just now and I am enamored with how beautifully it is told, and also with its moral clarity

In this story, there is a rich man, a self-made man, who has worked his way up from poverty, and now he owns a mansion and has many children and domestic servants. 

This man is named Buddy. Now, Buddy’s oldest son was born of his first wife, who died of cancer many years ago. He has remarried, and he has many children by his second wife. 

This story is set in the 1960s, or possibly the early 70s, and we learn that Buddy’s oldest son, Rob, has dropped out of college and joined a hippie commune in the woods. He now demands to be called Siddhartha 

Buddy is hurt by this, because his son has turned away from his birth name, from his fathers gifts to him, and is living decadently in the woods.

Buddy tries to understand his son: he listens to the popular music that is inspiring him, and he reads books about buddhism, including Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, which his son as given to him.

Then he goes out to the woods, to the commune, and he has a confrontation with his son. Through dialogue we learn that the son—who is now called “Sid” — resents Buddy, because his first wife, Sid’s mother, died of cancer while Sid was at a boarding school, and Buddy immediately took a new wife.

Moreover, we learn there is an element of racial resentment — Buddy’s first wife was black, and Buddy’s second wife was white. This is never explicitly stated.

Sid says many hurtful things to his father, publicly, in front of all his hippie friends, and Buddy becomes very angry, but he endures all of this abuse out of love, and finally he persuades his son to step outside—

Sid tries to accuse Buddy of racism, of sexism, of negligence—we see that he believes his father never loved his black first wife, that he couldn’t wait to be rid of her to marry a white woman—and we also learn that his father is innocent of these allegations

Finally, they speak man to man, after a brief fight, which Buddy wins. What Buddy wanted for his son, through all of this, was for him to go back to school, to be strong, to be a good man. And we see that finally, in the last moments of the story, Sid comes to understand his father’s love for him

Buddy says: Boy, it takes rich men to subsidize holy men, hell, Jesus Christ had rich women following behind him. So don’t act like you’re better than I am cause you’re spending my money trying to find your soul and way in life.

Sid thought that he was the buddha, rejecting his life of riches to pursue spiritual growth, but we, the readers, realize that Buddy is the enlightened one. There is even a phonetic similarity between “Buddy” and “Buddha”  — and for me, this association only becomes apparent as the story concludes.

In the next segment, I will explain the ways that I read this story.

~

Yes hello. We will talk about my reading of the passage prize winner, Georgia Buddha.

The first thing we should notice about this story is that it is a variation on the biblical parable of the prodigal son, which you can find in the fifteenth chapter of Luke

So right away we see that our sculptor has chosen beautiful raw materials, fine stone from which he will release these wonderful forms

Buddy is the rich man in the story, the father — and in Jesus parable, this character is, metaphorically, God. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

I found two different ways to read this story, and it is a hallmark of any very good story that it may be read in multiple senses

First, we will examine the soteriology: What is the sin? It is that a son has turned away from his father, and rejected his care. Next, what is the punishment? 

Well, this part is vague. In Jesus’ parable, the son squanders all of his father’s wealth, this is the wage of his sin

But in our story, the son has not yet squandered it. So if there is punishment, it is his estrangement from his father, it is his self-imposed exile and the resentment he feels

Very well, what is the salvation? Notice that Buddy, the father, lives in a kind of heaven: he is rich, he is successful, he has many friends and great influence, he has a beautiful wife and she has born him loving children.

But he leaves his heaven, and descends into the earth, a place that is described in the story as being muddy, a woman walks barefoot in the mud, the commune is in a log cabin with no running water. 

So the father leaves heaven and comes to earth, and he endures these pains on behalf of his son, and then he saves him, because he is willing to go through this pain

Now we can see that despite its Buddhist trappings, this is a deeply Christian story, it is a story about a father saving his son by enduring suffering on his behalf.

This story glorifies fatherhood — it is metaphysically correct.

Now we can perform the intersectional reading: who is the sinner? It is the son, a boy of mixed race. And who is his redeemer? His father, a straight white man. This is so obvious it barely needs to be said.

But how can we read this allegorically? We could take it as a story of the white man’s burden — that through pain endured on behalf of love, the white man tries to uplift the negro.

That is one reading. Certainly it is problematic for intersectional types, even though it is the literal metaphysic of all antiracism, a metaphysic which they vehemently deny, because they are either evil or stupid.

But to me it is not a satisfying reading, because the mulatto son cannot help his nature. We like to joke about this: being black is a choice, we might say, unlike being a communist, which is something you are born with.

To be more serious, there is a sense in which this is literally true: black americans do have the option to embrace so-called “black culture” or to reject it and choose “white culture”

— which paradoxically may consist of loudly proclaiming racial resentment against whites — In the current year, there is almost nothing whiter. 

And that is, effectively, the choice that Buddy is giving to his son: as Nietzsche reminds us, a man of mixed blood is always at war within himself. And Buddy is giving his son a chance to choose one side or the other.

The second reading of the story is to notice that, whatever sins Sid has committed, it is BUDDY who made him that way. Buddy chose his first wife, his black wife. 

So we can also read that BUDDY is the sinner, and his sin is miscegenation. The punishment then is that his son must pay for his sin. And in this reading, redemption comes when pays his sons debt for him, by convincing him to accept the salvation of white culture.

This second reading is also Christian: God has made you this way, given you the capacity to be both a saint or a sinner, and has come to you, to offer you salvation, paying your debt for you because in a way, it is a debt that he owes to himself.

We must be very careful here, because this can easily veer into heresy. Keep in mind that we are dealing only in allegory, and if we extend the metaphor too far, then it becomes over-extended, and it will collapse

Now, two further questions:

First, did the author intend these readings? We might imagine that most men, when they tell a story, do not have such a theological treatise in mind

And while it’s possible that this author did, it is not necessary for him to have this intention in order to produce something this sophisticated; it is only necessary to tell the truth, because the true metaphysic is fractally manifest in everything underneath it

Second question: Are these the only readings? The answer of course is no.

“Post-modern” is a dirty word to some people, but the key insight of post-modern thought is that, with enough sophistry, any reading is possible of any text

For this reason many people associate post-modernism with sophistry, and they are not entirely wrong to do so

But it’s true that a clever exegesis can seem to invert the meaning of a text. So when we ask these soteriological or metaphysical questions, we must be aware that other answers are possible, and that clever enemies delight in finding ways to subvert something beautiful

I’ll give you an example of a clever subversion: we could read the above story through a psychoanalytical lens

In the psychoanalytical lens, we start with several assumptions:

first, that the characters have repressed desires — desires which may be socially unacceptable, and which they themselves do not realize

Second, that the characters repressed desires are revealed through their actions, but only after the characters have convinced themselves that they have no other choice but to act them out

Third, that even when they do this, they are not conscious of the desire as a desire, and the desire is born out of a need to “keep score” with the other people in their lives — they want to feel like they are getting as much out of the other person as they are giving

So when we read the story in this frame, we assume that the characters all conform to this psychological model. Who is Sid keeping score with? The options are his father, his dead mother, his friends, or his younger siblings.

We can pick any of these depending on what meaning we want to squeeze from this stone;

The most realistic choice is his friends, who are all engaged in a virtue signaling spiral over who hates their father the most (this is implicit) and Sid in this case has a ready-made narrative of anti-racism, anti-sexism, and anti-capitalism which equip him to win this holiness spiral.

Staying even with or beating his friends at the father-resentment game is a huge part of his motive. But this happens off-camera and is not germane to the mechanics of the story.

We learn that he has hated his father ever since his mother died. He blames his father for the death of his mother, because he thinks Buddy neglected her when she was ill. So he refuses to accept his father’s gifts, and he hurts himself in the process.

It hardly seems that he needs to repress the desire to hurt his father, but he will tell himself he has no choice, that his father is a capitalist, a sexist, a racist — and that is why he must do these things

In this reading, Sid becomes sympathetic. Poor, confused, unenlightened Sid, cutting off his nose to spite his face

Sid will not think of his actions in this way. He will think instead that he is pursuing some spiritual path — that is the story he has built for himself with the help of his friends. But psychoanalysis believes that these kinds of baser, personal motives are primary

And what about the father? What score is Buddy trying to equalize? Sid’s dead mother has absconded from the scene, leaving him with the burden of fatherhood. She has “gotten more” out of Buddy than Buddy got out of her, so Buddy will look for a way to make it even.

We see that his son reminds him of his dead wife, so the psychoanalytic reading is that he tries to settle the score with his son. He does this by physically striking him, by trying to “control” him — but no, enough, this teaching nauseates me.

Let there be no mistake here: I believe this reading is bad, it is false. But it is also common, it is the way that the left will read this story. And I want to show you how they smuggle their own, twisted metaphysics into a story by adding a priori assumptions in the form of psychoanalytic axioms.

Notice how the information that was added — the ideas about repression and score-keeping — are not present in the story at all. In fact when you read the story, you will see that Buddy has a very grounded view of his first wife. But psychoanalysis cannot accept this;

It demands pathology, because it is a hammer which sees every person as a nail.

Notice also how there is no sin in the psychoanalytic frame: Sid has no agency at all, he is just reacting to the circumstances that have shaped him. The only sinner now is Buddy, and his sin isn’t anything he did, either, his sin is his inexorable NATURE—he can’t help but repress his desire, he can’t help but oppress his son

So the insertion of psychoanalytical metaphysics is the undoing of all metaphysics. The only salvation that remains, now, is for Buddy and Sid to both go to therapy. How convenient for the psychoanalysts.

This is another possible reading, but it is a reading we should reject, it is a back door to the same liberal metaphysics we are trying to escape.

You know that old chestnut — men would rather submit a work of original fiction to a bunch of anonymous reactionaries than go to therapy

And what I’m telling you is their preference is rational and just.

~

We have been talking about how to read, and we have covered a lot of ground already

When we talk about reading, we think maybe of mere literacy, which is just the ability to turn markings on a page into words in your head

We call this reading

But there is another skill, which is only barely related to this — it is not the act of decoding graphemes into phonemes, but the act of decoding morals out of metaphors, which I been explaining by way of examples

No one taught me this ability; I did not read it in any book. I did not learn it from any teacher. I do not know if it can be taught, though I have tried to teach it to you here today

We have seen how clever manipulation of the symbols in a story can be used to subvert or to invert its intended meaning

And for many people, they will not bother to read, and if they do, they will only read what they expect to read, that is, they will fail to confront the ideas which are constituted by the words they find on the page

You cannot read a story in a vacuum; all the other stories you know will shape your expectations

For people who are inundated by leftist metaphysics, it may be that only a leftist reading of a story is possible.

We wish to avoid this kind of narrowness, this parochiality, which is the purview of the average leftist today

We have seen also that a subversive reading begins with dishonesty, with moral assumptions about the content of the text. In an honest reading, we try to bring nothing to the text but our hearts

Francis Bacon wrote that it pleaseth God to apply himself to the capacity of the simplest

There is a simple, straightforward reading of a story like Georgia Buddha — it doesn’t require any deep thought, it only requires an openness to ideas and to life

To possess this openness, we must feel what the author has felt in the act of writing. 

To write from the heart, with sincerity and honesty, means the author must feel every single moment of his story from every perspective within it.

He must LIVE each moment, feel its weight, its emotion, its intention.

The artful reader must do the same.

And let us not pretend this is easy. Such an act of reading requires patience, devotion, and time for reflection. Small sips from a strong drink.

We are talking about literacy. And as reactionaries we may consider mass literacy to have been a mistake. 

Perhaps by giving everyone the ability to read we have dragged something precious and rarefied down into the mud and the dirt

Anyone can learn to read words, but it seems that very few among us can learn to read ideas

Goethe believed in this kind of elitism: he divided people into what he called Puppets and Natures. 

He said the majority of people were machines, playing a part.

I think this is a hazardous idea — a hazard to a man who holds it, because to hold it is to risk self-aggrandizement. We can only recoil from a man who walks around believing he has a monopoly on autonomy

To believe this about yourself is to set yourself up for a fall

Paradoxically, it seems that a deep and abiding humility is a necessary precondition to being what Goethe called a Nature.

Chinese communists used to believe that one man in twenty had leadership capacity — about five percent

And if they captured prisoners of war in Vietnam, they would isolate all the officers from the rest of the men, and they believed that the men would naturally look at certain others among their number, instinctively — that everyone would have an intuitive understanding of who their leaders were. 

And then they would isolate those men, as well, and put them in with the officers. And they would do this until no leaders were left. The leaders, they thought, could be molded, re-educated — and they were put through a battery of psychological manipulations, which I have described elsewhere

The regular men were simply imprisoned — there was no value in trying to train their minds, because they would always fall in line behind the leaders

Suppose all this is true — that Goethe and the CCP were looking at the same phenomenon — then what it means is that leadership capacity, being a nature — having your own, internal, self-propelling vitality — is really a kind of sensitivity

It means you vulnerable to ideas, it means ideas can take hold of you and possess you

This sounds counter-intuitive, because we think of these great robotic masses as people who are possessed by propaganda, possessed by ideas

But this is wrong, the masses are not possessed by ideas, they are in thrall to power. Their ideas change every week, not according to any coherent logic, but purely in response to the whims of the powerful, of those who CAN BELIEVE in ideas

If you think you have this power, then you should see it mostly as a liability. There is no such thing as nobility without obligation

I am not talking about an obligation to others, I am talking about an obligation to yourself 

If you have a weakness you need to be aware of that, you need to admit it honestly to yourself, and to the best of your ability you have to compensate for it

We pretend that anyone can change their mind when faced with superior arguments, but in reality logic and data are both displays of power

Both can be used to Iie, and this is very easy in fact

The ability to marshal arguments in favor of a cause is a demonstration of power

And when most people submit to these things, to arguments, to logic, they’re really submitting to power

But if you are a natural born leader. If you have your own NATURE, then it seems you can differ from the herd

This isn’t so much the power to adopt a rival ideology as the power to invent your own ideas

These two things are easily and usually conflated

Many men think choosing one school over another makes them independent, and that’s clearly wrong

But for those who do have that capacity, the usual result is being hanged as a heretic, not celebrated as a philosopher. So it really is a liability

I don’t think it’s bad to be a mechanical man  — I don’t think one type is inherently superior to the other. In most cases, the man who is a nature amounts to nothing, and he has no choice but to live mechanically, tormented maybe

Often such people are full of resentment. 

Often, because they are sensitive to ideas, they struggle to have feel conviction

Often they end up with a false sense of superiority — I think the worst and the best people are probably of this sort

But what I am also suggesting is that this ability is connected to being able to read, to truly read, to read ideas and not just words

People who have this power will inevitably disagree over the meaning of what they have read, and this leads to schism

A century ago, communist revolutionaries would prohibited the reading of all books and newspapers that were not 'red' and at the same time demanded that only the 'red' meetings should be attended. They did this because they understood the character of the mechanical man

There is likewise a sentiment in the catholic church that the sheep cannot be trusted to read God’s word without the guidance of a shepherd

When books are expensive, and when the lower, mechanical type of literacy is rare, then schism is rare

Protestantism was an inevitable consequence of the printing press, and I think much of the anti-literacy sentiment that I hear on the right comes from Catholics who want to wish away protestants

Protestantism is an essentially technological development, and there is no purely social intervention that could undo the schism, the only option would be to suppress the technology

Why make this analogy? Because phones and wireless internet have caused a similar type of social change, a kind of hyper-protestantism.

And it throws the distinction between mechanical men — men who are in thrall to power — and “natures” — men who are sensitive to ideas — into very stark relief. And you will notice that men who show some glimmer of independent thought are cranks. Most of their ideas are bad, though they may be original.

If you hear this and you think the answer is to dismantle the network of wireless telephony, then you haven’t learned to think like a ruler

The cost of one in twenty being rebellious must be weighed against the power to instantly, wireless command the other 19 with alacrity

The elitist argument is the same, no matter who the elites are

This is the central dilemma that elitists face today: any argument we make for elitism must contend with the decrepit state of our so-called elites

those who despise us — journalists, university professors, the intellectual class — will make this same argument when it comes to all great works of literature or art

they will tell us that we must rely on “expert opinion” — by which they mean their own opinions, naturally

A populist argument is an argument with the MEANS of control — it’s an argument that no one should have power, that no one should be able to control the mass

A populist believes that inside every puppet is a nature just waiting to get free

That we can achieve a state of utopia if only we can find a way to WAKE UP the individuality and NATURE within every mechanical man

This is tempting, this is the root of the egalitarian fallacy, and it is always and everywhere false.

An elitist argument understands that most people will always be sheep in need of a shepherd

It is not an argument about whether control should exist, but about what should be done with that control

The elite who rule over us now may well be a true elite — that is, there are people with power who are enthralled to ideas

And it is their ideas, not their existence, to which we object

That they have grown decadent and weak because they face no existential threat

And we—or at least the best of us—could become a better elite, 

and we are lying in wait, like a tiger in the grass, walking the knife’s edge of metabolic catastrophe, 

each meal may be our last

In short, our elite nature has been awakened first of all by our hunger

On the foundation of such an idea, we must build our house