Honor

One of my best friends passed away last week.

I’m twenty-nine years old, and up until last week, I was immortal.  I’m down to one grandparent, and a stepcousin committed suicide a few years ago, but a) my grandparents were old, and b) my stepcousin was kind of crazy.  We, you know, would never die.  Maybe in 40 years, but that would obviously never come (I mean, had it ever come before?).

He was good.  And interestingly, he was somewhat of an anomaly: he wasn’t, like, good after the fact, in a never-speak-ill-of-the-dead way, or a look-past-his-faults way.  He was smart, athletic, committed to his faith, funny, curious, loyal, diligent, and friendly.  He was an uncomplicatedly virtuous (in all senses of the word) man.

One foundational concept of this area of the internet is the mannerbund a group of men bound to each other by trust in (possibly loose) hierarchy and cooperation.  I have been lucky in that I seem to naturally form these; I have a tight group of male friends that has endured since high school (I talked to one of them today, and another the day before that), and one that formed in college.

My friend was in the college one.  Of course we all showed up to the funeral, and when I saw the rest of the group, I couldn’t hide my grief anymore, because how could I hide from them what we in particular shared?

Why did this hit us so hard?  It didn’t impact any of our careers.  None of us were dependent on him for anything.

What I miss from my friend is the opportunity to trust and be trusted, to serve and be served, to honor and be honored.  I’ve heard people say things like he’ll watch over us from heaven, but, like, I’m a big boy now, I can negotiate life OK without the “extra” divine help.  What I want is not so much help from him, but the opportunity to help him.

 


 

In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis points out

the different senses of the possessive pronoun—the finely graded differences that run from “my boots” through “my dog”, “my servant”, “my wife”, “my father”, “my master” and “my country”, to “my God”.

Ownership, possession, hierarchy, and duty are complicated, messy topics, with spectra of meaning.  The modern world does not understand this—and neither does Hell(again from Letters):

The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and, specially, that one self is not another self. My good is my good and your good is yours. What one gains another loses. Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies; if it expands, it does so by thrusting other objects aside or by absorbing them. A self does the same. With beasts the absorption takes the form of eating; for us, it means the sucking of will and freedom out of a weaker self into a stronger. “To be” means “to be in competition”.

 

But readers of this blog likely have a more nuanced understanding than most.  Relationships that seem uncomplicatedly hierarchical (and by the Screwtape view, necessarily exploitative) can take on surprising qualities of love and self-sacrifice.

 

*(see footnote)

Service within a well-functioning mannerbund gets triple (at least!) value, because

  • It provides opportunity for meaningful action.  As the inimitable Tyler Durden says, “Self-improvement is masturbation.”  Self-anything is masturbation.  One of the qualities  of the image that men want to have of themselves is the ability and willingness to help their allies.  How to prove this without allies?
  •  Improving their welfare is a win for the group, which means it’s a win for you
  •  It gives them an opportunity to honor you, which, in a well-functioning group, they  want to do.  But because one can only honor the honorable, you have to provide them with opportunities.  See also.

What happens is that seemingly zero-sum interactions become positive-sum.  A braggart among strangers is an annoyance; a braggart among comrades merits a hearty toast.  This can even develop feedback loops where it is honorable to honor another, and all parties benefit (although).

Thus the sacred declarations of foiled intent: Aragorn’s assurance (see below), followed soon after by Boromir’s longing promise (“I would have followed you, my brother,”).

 

Boromir’s final moments provide us another window into how to love men.  What are Boromir’s last actions?  He reaches for his sword and declares his fealty.  He is, in other words, seeking honor.  And Aragorn grants it, helping him grasp his sword and accepting his (unfulfilled in life) loyalty.

What grieves me (although somewhat less so now, as I have pondered how to do what little I can after his death) is that I was deprived of the opportunity to honor my friend in life to the extent that he deserved.  I grieve not so much for him as for his honor—which would sound unloving except that I know that’s what he would grieve for.**

 

*(Honestly you could just watch this scene all day and get 90% of what’s good about reaction.  It’s all here: hierarchy, honor, compassion, male groups, loyalty, resolve rather than despair)

**to himself, not publicly—but I can grieve about it publicly.  One duty of men is to work on behalf of each other’s (Freudian) ids, because honor demands that they don’t do this themselves.  Thus the hallowed stations of wingman and best man: one to make the wedding happen, and the other to make the groom look good at it.

Why I’m not a White Nationalist

In polite society, no one writes essays with titles like this, because one of the rules of polite society is “You are not a white nationalist.”

But this is impolite society, so who knows?  Maybe I am.

Well, I’m not, but before I say why, I should mention that WN’s, in my limited, internet-only experience, have some fairly good points.  Certainly I’m more sympathetic to them than your garden-variety progressive.  Nor am I blind to the media’s manifest untrustworthiness when it comes to anything possibly relevant to race.

For that matter, I’m generally more comfortable around white people, and I’m OK with that.  I’m pretty sure it’s the norm for everyone to feel more at ease around others like them.

What weirds me out, however, is that WN’s seem to sometimes turn “whiteness” into a virtue elevated above others.  This strikes me as just…weird.  There are good people who are white.  But…there’s also human filth that’s white.  A philosophy so focused on race that it puts Trump and Washington on an equal level is a philosophy that’s got some splainin’ to do.

WN’s make an appeal that I think is very important, to group loyalty.  Loyalty is, basically, discrimination, and I think it’s an important, necessary part of life.  Loyalty is what makes a man bring food home to his kids rather than give it to some other kids.  It’s important to love what you are, and those close to you.

But that is not the same thing as implying that you, or those like you, are perfect, or ideals of virtue.  To an extent, loving others is about seeing what they could be, and urging them on.

I do not get the sense that white nationalism, as a whole, makes either self-improvement, or encouragement of others, a priority.  A movement like that would probably trying to fight meth, or start co-op farms.  Poor whites are in trouble, and it’s a shame that not much is being done for them, but I don’t get the sense that WN is that interested in helping them.  I’m not sure it’s interested in doing anything, really.

The final, more visceral reason I’m not a white nationalist, is an almost nastily racist one: race nationalists are losers.  BLM gets airtime and “space to destroy,” but none of their sound and fury will make the inner city safer.  Every Mexican flag held up outside a Trump rally is another person who won’t really enjoy the Captain America movies.  BLM members and black traders at Goldman Sachs are not the same people.  And white nationalists…well, yeah, The Force Awakens was really stupid about how it just rehashed A New Hope, but John Boyega did a good job.  I like him in the role.  It’d be a shame to spoil your enjoyment of the film over something like ideology.

Heroism

The definition of hero I have settled on is: “someone who does something great for the tribe.”

I should also mention why I care about this.  It’s because I have an intuition that understanding heroism will help us (“Us” being: anyone who reads this blog, with a particular eye to those who consider themselves reactionaries, or something close to it).  Some posts I’ve come across lately have strengthened this intuition. So I want to treat the words “hero,” and “heroism,” as technical terms.  Thus, it’s no good saying, “The real heroes are…”

Lewis approaches this well:

The word gentleman originally meant something recognisable; one who had a coat of arms and some landed property. When you called someone “a gentleman” you were not paying him a compliment, but merely stating a fact. If you said he was not “a gentleman” you were not insulting him, but giving information. There was no contradiction in saying that John was a liar and a gentleman; any more than there now is in saying that James is a fool and an M.A. But then there came people who said—so rightly, charitably, spiritually, sensitively, so anything but usefully—”Ah, but surely the important thing about a gentleman is not the coat of arms and the land, but the behaviour? Surely he is the true gentleman who behaves as a gentleman should? Surely in that sense Edward is far more truly a gentleman than John?”

They meant well. To be honourable and courteous and brave is of course a far better thing than to have a coat of arms. But it is not the same thing. Worse still, it is not a thing everyone will agree about. To call a man “a gentleman” in this new, refined sense, becomes, in fact, not a way of giving information about him, but a way of praising him: to deny that he is “a gentleman” becomes simply a way of insulting him. When a word ceases to be a term of description and becomes merely a term of praise, it no longer tells you facts about the object: it only tells you about the speaker’s attitude to that object. (A “nice” meal only means a meal the speaker likes.)

A gentleman, once it has been spiritualised and refined out of its old coarse, objective sense, means hardly more than a man whom the speaker likes. As a result, gentleman is now a useless word. We had lots of terms of approval already, so it was not needed for that use; on the other hand if anyone (say, in a historical work) wants to use it in its old sense, he cannot do so without explanations. It has been spoiled for that purpose.

Mere Christianity

There are heroes who are bad men, and there are good men who are not heroes.

Note that someone is only a hero in relation to a tribe: that tribe can be as small as one other person, or it can be the entire human race.

Seeing heroes as people who do great deeds for the tribe shows why our skin crawls a bit when someone says, “Did you know <founding father> {was gay|owned fifty slaves|wrote erotic literature}?”  The truth or falsehood of the claims doesn’t matter: it is ungracious.

(The more powerful clip, that requires some context, is the birthday scene from East of Eden .  Some time, when you have time, watch the whole film; I had a hard time watching this again)

Neoreaction May Be Able To Learn From A Video Game

Yes, really.

 

This post may take some time to fully read\watch, but I think it’s worth it.

Before you do anything, you should watch the short film that served as the announcement of the franchise:

Seriously, watch it—you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Okay, watched it? To answer the questions that aren’t as important for this post:

– Yeah, it’s a video game. A multiplayer, 6v6 objective-based first-person shooter
– Coming out in a month or so
– No, no feature film is planned (FOR NOW. They MUST be considering it. I think they have a rocket on their hands, but that’s just me.)

Real quick, so we’re on the same page: Overwatch is set maybe 80 years in the future. AI was invented, and the resultant AI’s (“Omnics”) started some sort of war twenty years ago. A small international task force called “Overwatch” basically…saved the world (we’re not told how). They then worked as a “global peacekeeping force and innovation engine” for twenty years, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity…but then were broken up by undetailed scandals of corruption and negligence, its former agents gone off “most of them just mercenaries now.”

And yet…here we have an armored gorilla and a time-jumping English girl making dramatic entrances into museums. They’re not there for profit (she put the gauntlet back in its case). So what are they doing? Is it possible that…there is the genesis of something new, something like the Overwatch organization, returning?

Got time for another video, as engaging as the first?

So, yes, the game features an intelligent gorilla who was raised on the moon.

So, there are a ton of things to point out in these clips from a reactionary perspective. I’m just going to list them:

  • A dissatisfaction with alienating organizations. Every character in Overwatch is exactly that, a character. I’ve come to the conclusion that a healthy caution, or at least awareness of, the power of Moloch (you MUST read that if you haven’t) in organizations is a core reactionary tenet. Decisions should be made by people, and a mass of people isn’t a person.
  • Overwatch (in its heyday) developed its own technology, managed its own defense, and wasn’t a shareholder-owned company…wait a minute, isn’t this, effectively, a state? (or more accurately, a phyle?) Part of the reason conservatives yearn for “the 50’s” isn’t just the tranquility of domestic life, but moonshots like….well, the moon. If you asked someone then “where is our society going,” they would have answered, “to space.” If you asked someone now, they would say, “Going? Wherever you want to, man. Just don’t tell me where I’m going.” And thus our atomization is revealed.
  • Grief at the modern stranglehold on organically-arisen state-like organizations (“Any Overwatch activity is punishable by prosecution.” “I know…but I do miss the old days”)

 

  • An implied accusation in the second film: Why don’t we have a moonbase yet?
  • The game is focused on heroes; one of the last lines of the first film is “The world could always use more heroes…” Heroism, and a worldview that accepts it, is or should be a concern of Reaction. See also here.
  • What I will here name “The Tomorrowland Ethos,” stated as, “Never accept the world as it appears to be—dare to see it, for what it could be.”
  • Of note is that although the second short has a fight scene, and a gorilla scientist in a robot suit, the central conflict is not a physical one, or a technical one (his shield gadget still doesn’t work).  The real moment of glory in the short is not when he disintegrates Reaper (the gas-ghost shotgun thingy), but when he makes the decision to recall the members of Overwatch to duty, illegal though it be.   That is what an organization on track to becoming worthy looks like.  You can see on Winston’s face when the globe lights up and the roster starts cycling through that this is going to be the best thing ever.  Is #nrx, or any nrx-affiliated group, on track to generate that sort of affection in its members?  Because I think that’s what you need.
  • Another interesting tidbit: after the original cinematic trailer was released, a composer put together an orchestral track using the theme:
  • A bunch of the Youtube comments are variants of “I cried listening to this.”  While the music is good, and beautiful, I think much of what they’re reacting to has been primed by the aforementioned trailers.  This should be a signal to us that there’s something with some punch.  The Reaction will, among other things, be beautiful, and virtuous—to the point that men will weep over it.  (Does this sound too tryhard for you?  Then you haven’t considered the full magnitude of what you’re trying to accomplish, or you’re setting your sights too low)
  • We’re diving a bit here, but in a newspaper article from within the fictional Overwatch world, its founder is described thusly:
  • …but Morrison would have a greater impact on the group in the long term. He brought out the best in the people around him and helped mold Overwatch’s diverse (and sometimes conflicting) agents into a cohesive fighting force. In unity, they found the strength to defeat the robots and end the Omnic Crisis.

  • Did you catch that?  It describes the process (or at least some of the requirements) of the creation of a society (if in miniature), out of its ingredients (people, who are not a society, yet).  And the creation of a new one is what’s necessary—there’s no previous society to which to fall back.

This has been a lot of abstract stuff, and, I mean, moon gorilla.  I certainly understand if this seems like foolishness to you.  The next post will be my thoughts on how all this can be applied practically.

In the meantime:

 

EDIT: the reddit comments

The Reaction Will Be, Like, Totes Sick, Brah

Reaction is lots of things.  Pop reaction is fun, truth-oriented and cathartic.  Actual reaction, in its truest form, is also self-critical, humble and hard-working.

What Reaction is not, or not exactly, is cool.

There are a couple reasons for this.  The first is that we don’t explicitly optimize for it.  Crazy enough though it’s been a few years—these are still early days.  There is a lot not figured out yet.  Lots of stuff to figure out besides the right kind of jeans or whatever.

Another is that past a certain point, type-of-cool is hard to pin down.  Fashion involves risk.  When writing about how new trends catch on (or don’t), noted fashion blogger (well…) Scott Alexander writes about:

the intellectual equivalent of the very trendy people who start wearing some outrageous fashion and no one knows if it is going to catch on or whether they will be soundly mocked for it.

You can spend a lot of time and effort spinning your wheels trying to spot the next big thing—and politically, that’s exactly what we’re doing.  But you can only stay bleeding-edge in so many fields at once.

So why am I talking about this?  Don’t we have better things to do?

Well, yeah.  But a couple assertions change the picture a bit:

  1.  Degree can, to an extent, substitute for kind.  Tall strong dudes with good hair and complexion are attractive in generic fashions, rich people in index funds make a lot of money, Wall Street hires Physics Ph. D’s, birth rate is a big deal.
  2. At its core, techne-obsessed modernity does not really understand this—or worse, understands and revolts against it, seeking to escape the heavy pressure of waterline requirements by claiming protected status for some specific characteristic.  In no particular order: Excuse me from armed force requirements because of my gender, offer me a scholarship because of my race, give us funding because we have a really great idea (but lackluster fundamentals), love me in spite of my lack of confidence because of the dreamy poems I write, don’t cut down the forest there because the crayfish native to it lays eggs with a particular pattern.  To be clear, this is not an inherently bad thing—some gendered aptitudes do compensate for gendered weaknesses, racial scholarships are not inherently a terrible idea, some ideas or technologies do transcend surface fundamentals, men with depth are a good thing, and species diversity is a good thing.  But the pendulum has swung too far.

Reaction is in danger of being a political movement, or affectation, that seeks to escape the burdensome requirements of having money and attractive young people.  Make no mistake, those don’t make a movement—money isn’t helping Hillary, and the young for Bernie won’t vote—but it is a requirement.

What reaction should seek to do is defer this requirement, rather than avoid it.

Slavishly obeying it is what modern politics does: watch the polls, pay consultants a lot of money to help you craft an acceptable narrative, etc.  Ideals be damned.

Wantonly disobeying it is what a particularly annoying ideologue does: call the entire process corrupt, and conspicuously make known your refusal to have anything to do with it.

The first is obviously empty and has no motive force; the second is akin to trying to reverse the course of a cruise ship with an outboard motor.

The path we ought to take is neither: it’s to stay quiet, personable, and hardworking, while  hewing to ideals—and then to spend some degree of surplus on appearances.  And importantly—some on charity.

The face of reaction on the upswing is an upwardly-mobile young couple in a middle-class neighborhood with three kids, who give some amount of money to charity, and visit their redneck parents on Christmas without being condescending.  It’s a college professor who gives funny lectures that take students back to the fundamentals, while helping his colleagues get their work published.  In short: extraordinary (not superhuman, just extraordinary) t-shaped excellence, plus humanity.

It’s a combination between this:Equinox_EquinoxCommittoSomethingPart216

 

and this:

32e8317f26c8397f4345159209e48af8.

 

Now, I’ve described the face, but that’s not all there is.  We are, after, all, not all superhuman.  But we should be aiming to be.

Faith and Determinism

On /r/darkenlightenment, the illustrious Nemester writes:

Fighting leftism is like fighting entropy (scientific concept). To some extent this is basically impossible. You can’t fight entropy. However we are committed to fighting against chaos. Even if only a brief respite is possible, we want to make it reality if only for a short time.

One day, the sun will burn out, the oil wells will run dry, and the antibiotics will lose their efficacy.  As Keynes said, in the long run, we’re all dead.

Applied to the political process, Moldbug is to be thanked and respected for identifying leftism as chaos:

First, we need to define left and right. In my opinion, obviously a controversial one, the explanation for this mysterious asymmetric dimension is easy: it is political entropy. Right represents peace, order and security; left represents war, anarchy and crime.

He was also the one to point out that leftism is just more fit memetically—that democracy leads inexorably to leftism,  and from there on to poverty, racial conflict, and a breakdown of order.

In other words: in the long run, we lose.

I wanted to write something to bolster those who, reading Nemester’s comment, sensibly think, “Well if all of this is doomed to failure, why try?”

The first response is that the long term is not the short term; just because the sun will go out someday doesn’t make it any colder today.  Cthulhu and Moloch are uncaring and unconscious: they will in fact allow a glorious, thriving civilization; “all men glad and wise,” to quote Scott Alexander.  There appears to be a hard limit on velocity at the speed of light; there is no hard limit of which I’m aware on quality of society.

The second response is that this is precisely the question that Christianity answers.  Death is acknowledged, and inescapable: it happens to everyone, and everything, societies included:

Eustace made a step towards him with both hands held out, but then drew back with a somewhat startled expression.

“Look here! I say,” he stammered. “It’s all very well. But aren’t you? – I mean didn’t you – ?”

“Oh, don’t be such an ass,” said Caspian.

“But,” said Eustace, looking at Aslan. “Hasn’t he – er died?”

“Yes,” said the Lion in a very quiet voice, almost (Jill thought) as if he were laughing. “He has died. Most people have, you know. Even I have. There are very few who haven’t.”

The answer is: everything is doomed, but the more interesting question is: “And then what?”  And the surprising answer is, “Well, then they get un-doomed.”   And what’s more: all the work put in before is not for naught:

The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness, or good according to his desires of good; and the other to evil according to his desires of evil; for as he has desired to do evil all the day long even so shall he have his reward of evil when the night cometh.

So: it is good that you’ve noticed a downward slide in society.  But that should not make you despair that it’s unrecoverable, or applies to every individual, and nor should it make you despair from seeing the far ending, because you haven’t looked far enough.

Full Circle on Ambiguity

This is a post on proverbs and parables, and their usefulness.  We should hoard them and seek to disseminate them.  I will end this post with the same opinion; the part in the middle is the why.

If this blog has a conflict that pulls it all together, it is the angst of a well-meaning young man coming to the realization that he has heard both of these uttered in his lifetime, by seemingly sane people:

“Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Obviously there is some nuance, and the manosphere exists in part to untangle it.

This post is not about attraction or intersexual relations at all. Because my reaction was not just, “Oh, wow, people have no idea what they’re talking about (or at least are terrible at explaining it) when talking about attraction,” but also, “If people have no idea what they’re talking about regarding this…do they make these ridiculous mistakes elsewhere?”

And, of course, they do.

What’s considered trashy if you’re poor, but classy if you’re rich?

Whatever Mrs. Grundy believes is false, even if she used to believe the opposite

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”

vs

“Better safe than sorry.”

If you have a certain frame of mind (or are just an arrogant jerk like me), when you hear people say both of these things, your reaction is, “<curse of surprise>, you’re actually an idiot, aren’t you?  Like, I thought you were basically capable of logic, but you just said two mutually contradictory things and meant them both.  I..uh…well, be seeing you.”

If you’re also polite like me, you don’t actually give voice to that reaction.

If you’re intellectually plucky like me, you set off on a multi-year journey to find the Truth and find yourself reading shady blogs with shady authors and learning acronyms and memorizing Chesterton quotes.  And eventually…

you find it!  You understand what was formerly mystery to you; you understand the different contexts from which mutually contradictory statements arise, and how to deal with them (if she’s absent and you’re not married, go find another girl.  If she’s absent and you are married, why is she absent?  If you’re absent and you’re not married, this may or may not affect her attraction to you.  If you’re absent and you are married, be careful…on both sides.  And further intricacies; I could go on.  I won’t.)

Now your problem is that you are Alone.  You have conversations like this:

“How’d the date go Dropit?”

“Well, it was OK and she was cute, but I don’t think she’s on the chaste-to-marriage train, so…”

“What’s the problem? Score, man!”

“No, you don’t get it, the divorce rate jumps astronomically with the first non-husband sexual partner, blah blah hypergamy…”

“Well, if she was cute and into you, then why not pursue it?”

“Well that’s for now, once it becomes clear I’m not gonna fuck her she’ll lose attraction, and…”

“Dude, she’ll love that! Girls just want to get married, man!”

“*sigh*”

“Like, are you gay or something man?”

You have done so much research, that you’re working with different fundamentals than most people.  The idea you’re trying to communicate is bigger than the budget of mental effort they’ve allocated to the conversation.

And!  This is where parables and proverbs show their worth.  They take out the specifics of your reasons for believing (when choosing data from which to form your beliefs, if you optimize for good experimental practice rather than ease of explanation, you end up with correct opinions that are hard to explain) something, and simply summarize the belief.  After about five seconds of looking at the above conversation, I know how it could be made much shorter:

“How’d the date go Dropit?”

“Eh, you know…can’t turn a ho into a housewife.”

Not a single reference to a study, or the mechanics of why and how it’s so unlkely—but the core concept, the answer to the question that was asked, is there.  It is within the mental effort budget of the questioner, and so will be heard.  If it piques their interest, they might ask about that, and then you can talk about the Teachman study and Baumeister’s ancestor ratio, etc., etc., etc.  But not before.

Let’s take a second and admire the feat accomplished here.  Because as a culture we don’t really believe “can’t turn a ho into a housewife,” and anything even suggesting it is rude, not publicized, misogynistic, etc.  And yet the idea gets through.  All those fundamentals and intermediate concepts people lack—doesn’t matter. They might not agree with it, but they get the point.

It’s important to note that statements of this nature do not fit in the idea of Theory.  It has no Becauses or Therefores; they are not consistent with anything but themselves.  In fact, the attempt to use them as foundations for theory led to the consternation I described upon discovering that two well-accepted proverbs contradicted each other.

What this means is: proverbs come at you devoid of context.  Nothing supports them; there is no proof that they apply to your particular situation.  The ones that you need to hear, you cannot judge on their merits; because if you had all the fundamentals to understand their merits, you wouldn’t need truth in bite-sized, allegorical pieces.

What should you judge them on, then?  The people saying them to you.  Any proverb or parable may apply or not apply to a particular situation; discerning whether it does or not requires a person of judgment and knowledge.  Is the person mouthing a proverb at you competent in this sphere?  If they are, either seek to learn what they know, or just do what they say.  If they’re not competent, then this is the definition of a platitude: a proverb uttered by someone without understanding.

So it’s funny; I began by revolting against contradictory proverbs that had been presented to me; now I’m here advocating their use as a means of a communication to the uninitiated (…to whatever strange field you happen to be an expert in).

I’ll leave you with one that I find memorable, fun to tell, and therefore useful and helpful: The Cobra Effect.