As I finished up my work today, I found myself thinking about the past 6 years. I made this blog in December 2015, I signed up for twitter in Febuary 2016, and over that time I’ve met a lot of people, written a lot of essays, written two books and done countless podcasts. Most of it’s a blur, I can’t remember most of my essays, nor most of the podcast appearances, but I do remember a lot of what happened on twitter.
About 3 years ago now, I was having a series of debates both in public and in direct messages about philosophy with someone who was a friend back then and who loved nothing more to run away from the world into his head. I identified a bit with this because it took me much work to cleanse myself of that particular preference. From my perspective, I was making an attempt at saving this man from overthinking, from disappearing into a blue nothing of ideas, concepts and constructs, that had little of anything to do with the world as it exists. From a philosophical perspective it was reminiscent of analytic philosophy and continental philosophy, one focused on empiricism and reason, the other on pure reason. It was a significant enough of a schism back in the day that Kant took the time to write two tomes about the different stances.
The main contention was, as I remember it was about the usefulness of philosophy, this was around the time Jordan B. Peterson was the new darling of the manosphere, and one cannot listen to Peterson without respecting his level of scholarly knowledge. This was an aspiration I had as a young man as well, to be erudite, to be able to quote countless authors, to summarize, to synthesize and to understand the mechanics of the world. I’m still on that quest now, however in my mid-twenties after spending countless hours studying the world through the eyes of others, I came to the conclusion that one can never understand anything one has not experienced.
This is not the classic “can’t understand it unless it happens to me“, for instance Dick Cheney being anti-gay until he had a lesbian daughter, it’s more of the difference between the theoretical and the applied parts of a science. It’s fully possible to calculate perfectly what your hand weighs, and how fast you would need to accelerate it in order to knock someone out cold, however it’s quite different to actually punch someone in the face.
I was a poor teacher back then, and I still am, what I was attempting to get across was “worry about the theory later“, children understand this intuitively, they pick apart objects, struggle to put them back together, over time if they’re smart they’ll learn which parts do what, and what works. Once they’ve learned that, they can take classes, go to college or read books on engineering to figure out how and why it works.
This was my take on politics that I attempted to get across on Rule Zero yesterday as well. I’ve been paying taxes for over 20 years, in multiple countries, and who is in charge doesn’t really matter, right or left, my tax bill is more or less a constant. It makes very little sense for me to get involved, especially emotionally involved, because the other side of things, the social freedom side can be gained easily by moving to a different country.
What I attempted to say on the last episode of Rule Zero was that getting emotionally invested in politics or philosophy is going to be a negative force in your life in almost every situation. Whether that means alienating family members, co-workers, friends, robbing yourself of opportunities or of time trying to reclaim a feeling. Alternatively, spending a ton of time angry, upset, sad, miserable, because you are obsessing about something that an individual has limited influence over.
However, this isn’t to say that philosophy, psychology and politics should be ignored and one should act as if they didn’t exist, it is to say that they are systems you should understand and leverage to move towards your objective desired outcome.
Summary and final thoughts
The reason why politics and philosophy are such dangerous topics for young men, along with religion and a handful of others, is that it offers the entrance to the hero’s journey. It’s very easy to imagine oneself making progress when part of an echo chamber fighting for a political cause or an intellectual group of “wrong thinkers”, you are going to change the world, now you are small, but once your great movement makes it, you’ll be remembered in history.
This is much like the old bodybuilder being interviewed in the movie “Bigger, Stronger, Faster” who had 1 credit in an Arnold movie in the early 90s, and was still living in his Van outside Gold’s Gym in Venice 20 years later thinking he would make it or the 50 year old who has been playing with his bands since the 80s and still think that they just need that one break.
The grand narratives are seductive, but very rarely useful for the individual looking to improve his lot in life, as these narratives are often constructed specifically to make men go against their own best interest. When I originally started writing here, it was mainly motivated by a desire to share my notes with other men, but also to benefit from the arrangement by learning from other men. In the past 6 years, I’ve done a lot of both, but the one thing I’m left wondering is how many men I saw, raised by women, who reacted like women, and let their emotions take control when reason would have been a better guide.
Whether that was the guys who went deep into:
A) New age bullshit like tanning your asshole, energy, crystals, astrology, MBTI, or various other things.
B) The guys who went into politics with a fervor, those who took the god pill
C )Those who went down a rabbit-hole of conspiracy theories, some did
D) Those who did all that shit
It rarely if ever ended well for them, when I look at where they were early on, and where they are now, the lucky ones are still stuck in the same rut they were in 5 – 6 years ago.
However, what makes me appreciate the way I’ve spent a lot of time over the past 6 years, are the guys who have made tremendous progress, and in the end which men ended up where depended on a single choice:
“Do what is hard because you must or do what comes easy because you can”