False Ideals

To expand on my previous post, the hugbox inclination permeates the mind of the egoic seeker; adoring the safe space of studious self-absorption, an ignoble form of isolation masquerading as a homage to the Athenian ideal, but curiously failing to venerate her more confrontational attributes.

Manifestations of this sacrificial act are found on Twitter among used insight salesmen that grandstand with allusions to the ancients (“library of Alexandria in your pocket”). In proffering their repugnant mimesis the individual is devolved and with it the intrinsic achievement, abolished into a mere collection of notions, prostituting wisdom for the most likes. As Oscar Wilde said, “everything popular is wrong”.

These salesmen scream caveat emptor in the subtext of their meditations but the cries go unheard as their product is the most nefarious of all, the idea that you are a mule, a courier for thought. Neglecting the “social” in social media and ignoring that debate is one of the oldest sources of wisdom, their folly inadvertently recommends a surrendering to ideation and in doing so, overriding the qualities that are singular and distinct.

A devotion to the nature of thought removes the impetus behind it, since the definition of wisdom hinges on experiential implications. Jim Carrey eventually concluded there is no Jim Carrey to free himself of responsibility, not to transcend it. Carrey sought to rationalise the manifestation of his whims, complete with e-philosopher beard.

If man were reduced to the content of his thought, we would have no need for limited paradigms. The counterbalance to ideation is the grounding connections between the nodes of thought – this grounding cannot be conceptual, or it would have no potential for utterance or human output in the first instance, there would be no link to the mouthpiece.

The brilliance of the ideational scientist Richard Feynman was arguably in his personification of natural laws and concepts (as pertaining to mathematics and science). The subjective at its paragon grants a relatability that one can seldom find in ostensibly self-effacing actors.

The audience is held in a form of reverent stasis, following more out of obligation since everyone else is, with little to veritably associate with themselves. Bad actors depende on their explicit focus on presold wisdom and the audience becomes emotionally invested in the concept of ‘value’ once they are hooked, as absent a relationship, they are compelled to defend logic in isolation.

YouTuber zefrank commented on an Invocation for Beginnings that perfectionism “may look good in his shiny shoes but he’s a little bit of an asshole and nobody invites him to his pool parties”. In doing so, he espoused a certain realism in presentation despite being an ideational sort. This we might argue is similar to a recurrent and timeless principle of film-making – the audience needs a theme to relate to, that is applicable in their own lives, otherwise the narrative seems alien.

Twitter philosophers are extremely popular as they affect an ideal: the image of perfection. WIth that, they are often defended to the hilt by those that operate in similar delusions, perhaps with aspirational bios or famous figures for profile pictures. Yet that ideal does not conform to reality – these people are often indulging the derivative tendency of those that place ideation above creation. They are for conception, but not its output.

There is no risk involved in dedicating oneself to knowledge, there is no person to be rejected, especially if one focuses on ‘wisdom’ ensconced within well-trodden soundbites (did you know that curious people learn more?). The authors of digestible ideation are like postmodernist academics that bury themselves in social theory only to become postgraduate teachers, never leaving the bubble of academia (see the to-be Oxford fellow that interviewed Jordan Peterson).

The worst claim to be original, but affect to be something from the past. Gutless cowardice should not be encouraged, but in a world where image is semper primus, affectation rules. It’s upto you whether you take the hard path or take the cheap and easy route. Know that the more someone is self-honorific, the more likely they are a sham.

If you want to be as unflappable as me, it’s a simple decision.

The Locker Room

A few close shaves in my misspent youth taught me one thing: some men will push your buttons to test your spirit and demand that you fight. In order to evade these risks, some find solace in groups that operate like support hotlines, believing themselves insulated from the impact of an unforgiving world.

The recent hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why attempted to feature a male-only space with its central theme incorporating the high-school jock cliché of the locker room; a would be tense arena where a fight might emerge from a misplaced remark. Unfortunately the show glossed over realism somewhat — light-hearted banter on an equal footing with supportive commentary is a far cry from my experiences in familiar settings.

This smoothing attempt to ignore the rawness of these forums indicates a distinct softening of the times. Strength cannot exist in a vacuum, it must be tested, like a forged sword must first glow from intense heat before hardening. If your social circle defaults to support, compliance or indifference, in the end it erodes your ability to hold up the roof of the domus. The siren call of validation in abundance dulls the senses. When it is time to show mettle, a habitual diplomatic or evasive manner rears its head. Tough times are not abstracted into a challenge — there is only reaction and emotion.

Tribes have always existed (Jack Donovan makes a great case for them), but there is a pernicious idea among masculinity theorists in the chambers of online discourse that implies the only expression of masculinity is the bond between you and other men, and there can be no threat to that bond. This is almost sacrosanct among men that think like mechanics and revere the wider group. I do not blame these men. Their motivations are aligned with good intentions, but people in the end act out their defaults with the devil watching. A crutch is born.

The band of brothers motif is intoxicating. You see others like you and find confirmation in the emotion reflected back at you. You tell yourself it all fits together, ergo it belongs in my life. This helps me understand myself to be a part of this group. In times of war, this feeling affiliation reaches its zenith. The essence of camaraderie is rooted in this spirit. Outside of life or death, it’s a safety net for weak hearts.

Surrendering to a group ensures strength in numbers but alone you remain vulnerable, fragile and weak. The heightened risk is that even when we are with others we are still alone. Nobody can ever perfectly read or anticipate us, no matter how much we would like to pretend otherwise. We are a product of ourselves in every environment. Even the most stimuli-response oriented humans are of a singular distinction. They are a unique person.

A group is even more of a liability if it does not test you or apply rigorous standards for membership. You become a freeloader empowered to speak in the same tongue. In such situations, the ethos you share with others is no different to a movement dictated by an emotive cause. You only need your feelings to vie for social justice, no qualification or rite of passage – as tribes once boasted.

As a practising agreeable person, a truly disagreeable person can expose critical vulnerabilities. Your openness becomes an exploit to be hacked. In putting the group first, to others you must always come last. The people that put your first however, are not afraid to take aim. The people that genuinely support and care about you will step on your toes. They will tell you when you are going to fuck up your life, or when you are being a coward. Gratitude comes later.

Through cultivating a group of friends that put truth and reason above their need to be liked, strength is afforded with and without them. Honest feedback is always available, and the strength in numbers exists inherent to the group. If you build a locker room in your life, men you appreciate will respect you enough to not shine fake smiles and utter pleasing words, that comfort instead of teach. They will dig into you, find your true character and expose it.

Weakness cannot thrive in the locker room.

Learning to Climb

“It all started with a thirty day challenge” – that was what I told myself three years ago when I envisioned the distant future; little did I know what it was that I was actually starting.

Reflecting on this prophetic statement, the decision to persist with erratic posts over the course of a dreary September set me on a path that changed my life forever. Be it the embrace of psychological realism or meeting Twitter friends in distant lands, my life is a different picture.

In writing this post I conjured the Tolkien thought of the Hobbit’s moniker ‘There and Back Again’. Bilbo Baggins left the comfort of the Shire only to return after confronting an assortment of monsters, nefarious hoards and personal challenges. My quest has not been as fantastical as retrieving Smaug’s treasure, but it has been especially trying, and a meta-lesson in self-growth.

When Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight accepted the antipathy of Gotham to be “the hero Gotham needed”, his identity was lost in the process – the symbolism of his alter-ego tarnished. No longer was the bat-man an expression of individual character, but something decided by the people. As a result, in the sequel Bruce was a listless, forlorn character at first.

Artful Man met the same fate, like a limb to be amputated I felt I could cut away the known reality and reinvent, but it turns out one cannot reinvent who they are.

True self-development is away from the clamour of social media — away from the spotlight. Not all will recognise this growth because their online investment is at the expense of their non-digital realm, but this unadulterated embrace of the visceral world is how a powerhouse of logic finds balance in a frenzied time.

I encourage all who wish to start making a mark, to start in the most earnest and honest manner possible. Build a foundation, as something more takes as long as it takes.

I found myself in a pit for two years, but I’m learning to climb.