It’s Either Inherited Or Of Mayfly-Stuff

Imagine two children.  One of them eats vegetables, while the other eats candy.

Most people would judge the first to have made the more worthy choice.

Now, some people with an overdeveloped taste for rules and strictness might ask: “Who are we to judge?  Surely the second child must in some way from their choice.  Candy is sweet to the taste and provides utility immediately.  Who are we to condemn this?”

Those with an even more overdeveloped taste for formal principles, however, would agree with the herd:  vegetable-eating is better.

Why do we think this?  The pleasure-principle-libertarian has a point, after all.  Isn’t candy vs vegetables just a preference, like a fondness for the color blue?

The key difference is that candy is a good choice in the short term, while vegetables are a better choice in the long (seventy years, and possibly longer, depending on epigenetics and follow-on effects) term.

Let’s introduce a property we’ll call reach.  Reach is simply the power to affect things at a distance.  When long-distance calling became cheap, everyone gained a bit of reach.  A baseball bat provides reach.

Reach is not just through distance, but also time.  The titular character in Ozymandias has great reach in his own era, but his achievements don’t last.

Which brings us to the point of this post.  For what timeframe should we aim our strivings?  The moment?  The year?  The decade? Our lives?  The next millenium?

Most people, when they seek to affect the world beyond the scope of their lifetimes, aim to do so through their children.  Why do people work at jobs they hate?  It ain’t so they can donate to medical research.

An unthinking hostility to inherited privilege, therefore, looks suspiciously like a boxing-in of human ambition to the short-sighted, the fleeting, the momentary.

Horribly, child-bearing and long-term planning are complements in the economic sense.  When you have children, the distant future becomes suddenly very relevant; likewise, the raising of children becomes a much more attractive pursuit when you grasp the reality of mortality.

This is horrible because the two reinforce each other, and both are being cut off at the knees.  As inherited privilege falls from favor, so does having children at all, as a vehicle for preservation of human labor.  And as birthrates fall, so do the incentives for average married father frustrated decline-enjoyer Joe to really give a damn about tomorrow.

“Inheritance” is two-sided, after all.  We might instead refer to it as “bequeathed” privilege, “entrusted” privilege, or “safeguarded” privilege.  The things my parents gave me, I treat as sacred.

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The Wooing

There was once a youth with aspirations of nobility.  From boyhood he studied the code of chivalry, lived piously, and learned stories of heroism and great deeds.

 

It happened that the fairest maiden in the land lived in the next village over.  Being of marrying age, the youth determined to ask her father for her hand in marriage.

Up the road he came, with staff in hand and traveler’s cloak thrown over his shoulder.  Her father, though of only moderate means, owned a fabulous sword, with a golden hilt encrusted with rubies.

“My good sir,” he said.  “I have come a-wooing.  I ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.:

The father, leaning on the sword, looked the young man up and down.  “Many have come,” he said.  “And many have left disappointed.  To win my daughter’s hand, you must slay the Dragon of Penshire, over the hill.”

The youth blanched, but he appreciated the symmetry: fair maidens deserved great deeds, and what had his youth prepared him for if not this?  So over the hill he went, and after a quest extending over several months, involving stumbling across a dead knight’s lance, solving three riddles from a sage in exchange for the secret of the dragon’s weak spot, a crafty trick involving drenching sheep in a sleeping potion, and some hair-raising (and hair-singing) last-minute panic, the youth returned over the hill, bearing a single scale from the Dragon of Penshire on his back.

“I have slain the Dragon of Penshire,” he told the lass’s father.  “I have come again, a-wooing.  I ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The father replied, “It is true that you have performed a brave deed, but the fearless might be a knave as easily as he might be just.  To win my daughter’s hand in marriage, you must convince me you are a man of honor.  Go, and do not return until you bear a medal from the King.”

It so happened that the kingdom was embroiled in a great war, so when the youth entered the valley where the army was encamped, they readily accepted him.  He was a mere pikeman at first, enduring cavalry charges, but over the following weeks he learned to wield the bow, the flail, and the longsword.  Soon he was charged to serve as one of the bodyguards of the young Prince, who was there to learn the ways of war.  One of the bodyguards, bribed by the enemy, made an attempt on the young Prince’s life.  The youth caught him in the act, unsheathed his sword, and dispatched the assassin, saving the Prince’s life.  For this, he was awarded a medal from the King Himself.

So up the road he came, sword in sheath, shield on back (made from the scale of the Dragon), and medal on chest.  He cut a dashing sight, and the maiden, watching from the second-story window, could not but fall in love with him.

“I have received a medal from the King, and thus shown you that I am a man of honor,” the youth said.  “I have come a-wooing, and I ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The father took in the sight of the youth, and said nothing, but made a signal with his hand.  From behind the house came a wagon and ten men with nets and clubs.  They set upon the youth, entangling him in their nets and beating him with their clubs.  Then they threw him in the wagon.

“I have sold you as a slave!” yelled the father, as the wagon departed.  “If ever we meet again, I will grant you my daughter’s hand.”

The youth’s sword, shield, and medal were all taken from him, and the wagon arrived at a larger caravan, whereupon he was chained to the rest of the slaves.  As he marched under the lash, his clothes fraying, he grew angry.  “All I ever wanted was to be a hero!” he raged.  “I lived piously!  I slew a dragon!  I saved the life of a prince and earned a medal from the king!  And my only wages were captivity!”

But no one cared, and the caravan marched on.

One night in the desert, the caravan was attacked by bandits.  The bandits were in the pay of the same enemy kingdom that had tried to kill the prince.  They had received word that the great warrior who had foiled the assassination was traveling with the caravan, but they did not know what he looked like.

“Ten guineas and freedom for the slave who can tell us who he is!” they said.

The youth stood and pointed at the leader of the caravan, a large and well-built man, and said, “That is the man.”

“No!” said the caravan leader.  “HE is the one!”

“Do I look like a great warrior?” said the youth.  And indeed he did not.  Starvation and hard labor had taken their toll on him.  His shirt was gone and his pants were in tatters.  Rags wrapped his feet.

So the bandits killed the caravan leader and took control of the caravan as a bonus.  They were in a jolly mood, so, true to their word, they paid the youth his ten guineas and set him free, with a dagger, a waterskin, and directions to the nearest town.

So up the road he came, with no shirt and torn pants, a waterskin hanging from his back and a dagger in his hand.  His beard had grown, and he looked just like one of the vagrants who often passed by on the road—and perhaps he was one.  The girl’s father looked at him with disdain.

“You sold me as a slave, and told me that if I came back, you would give me your daughter’s hand,” said the youth.  “I have come a-wooing, and I ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

The father, leaning on his sword, looked closely at the suntanned face before him.  “It is you,” he said.  “But I have one more task for you.  There is a mountain—”

In a flash, the youth was on him, holding the rusty bandit-dagger to his throat.  “I think I am quite done with those, oldster,” he said.  “I am leaving here with your daughter, and possibly your head.”

“You are a ruffian—”

“I have lived piously all the days of my life.”

“You are a coward—”

“I have slain a dragon.”

“You have no honor—”

“The King Himself considers me a friend.”

“You are not suitable for my daughter—”

“If you can find my equal, then give her to him instead.”


 

At this the old father’s eyes acquired a crafty look.  Slowly, he took the wise man’s hand, and moved the dagger-blade away from his neck.

“I see,” he said.   And he called his servant, and asked him to fetch his daughter.

“Daughter,” he said when she arrived, indicating the ragged, half-dressed scoundrel within his gates.  “This is the man you are to marry.”

Long Live The Fathers, The Fathers Are Dead

(The first shall be the last, and the last shall be the first, etc.)

Once there was a hobbit who was charged to save the world.  He had in his possession, through no fault of his own, a Ring.  He was charged to take it through danger and misery, into a land of fire and poison, and throw it into lava.  His survival was not guaranteed, and in fact death was tacitly assumed.  At no point was he to try and use the ring for his own benefit.  There were others, stronger and wiser than he, but none of them volunteered, nor did anyone think it was that strange that the most important task at hand was charged to the least able.  The main qualifications were innocence, humility, and a good heart.

Well, it turned out he didn’t actually have those, or at least not in good enough stock.  With the fate of the world depending on his ability to resist temptation, he chose the Dark Side, and tried to walk away with the Ring for himself.  Through blind luck, another pathetic personage who wanted the Ring tried to take it from him, and in the ensuing chaos it (and its new bearer) fell into the fire.

Well, none of that is the real story.

Here’s the real story:  A hobbit went off into fear and danger, and so became the kind of hobbit who, when he returned home and found his town set up as a petty dictatorship, saw it as “the obvious thing to do” to matter-of-factly lead an uprising and restore tranquility.  He regarded this like a vacationer come home and fixing a leaky sprinkler, rather than as a grand act of heroism in defense of freedom.  Then he died (*cough* “Grey Havens”) and it was off to the next lesson.

The pattern is: make it worse and worse until you break, and then you’re ready to move on.

(Spoiler for a 2003 movie that you should definitely see) Surprise!  THAT WAS A TEST TOO.  Later the trainee in the clip is selected to be the black ops agent of his class.  The conversation goes something like this:

 

BURKE: You lasted longer on your interrogation exercise than any CT has in the last fifteen years!

CLAYTON:    I broke!

BURKE: Everybody breaks, that’s the point, damn thing doesn’t stop ’til you break!

CLAYTON: Then why did I wash out?

BURKE: Ya didn’t, that’s why I’m here!

 

 


 

Evola: “Save the West!”

Carlyle: “Rebuke foolishness!”

Jeremiah: “Cry repentance!”

 

Well, they’re all dead.  Have they done anything but scold for the last  50/100/2500 years?  Will Carlyle help you find a job if the Eye of Soros alights you?  Will Evola tell you how to restore an aristocracy, whether it’s a good idea, how it should look like?  Will Jeremiah come fix your church?

 

Destroy the Ring!  Save the West!  Easy to say.  Much harder to do.

…But this doesn’t make them wrong.  The Ring needed to be destroyed, the West needs to be saved, and Christ is the cure for what ails us.  And those things will happen.  There are better and worse versions; the West can be cleansed by repentance or fire, and Christ’s coming will mean either relief or terror for us, but they will happen, whether we’re involved or not.

 


 

When there’s no solution in one world, an injection from another is necessary.  What saves the world is necessarily from outside it; else it wouldn’t need saving.  This is what fiction does for us; this is what the saga of the Ring did for the Shire, through Frodo, and it is what Christ did for us.  You live in one world, and what it turns you into, you bring into the next.

I simultaneously have a ton of things to say about this model, and none at all, for fear I should mislead.

But to stay consistent with the title, I’ll focus on one:  The past is the past, ideals are ideals, and God is God.  They are neither wrong nor panaceas.  However you act with respect to them, the results will so accord.  Do you want to actively try and change the world?  You can do that.  Do you want to decry them as outmoded and impractical?  You can do that also.

When the Change happens—and I have left that deliberately ambiguous (is it the Return of Kings?  The Return of Christ?  A Return to Normalcy?)—some will be those who waited night and day for it.  They knew old things would be done away, and they wasted no time on things as they were, knowing that old things should pass away.  They will be raised up by universal agreement, because who could forget that crazy iconoclastic hermit who Was Right All Along, and took hell for it?

There will be others who had counted the cost and concluded they didn’t have it in them to make it that far.  They avoided doing anything against the coming new world, but they did not perhaps sell themselves out bringing it to pass.  Instead, they will have focused their energies on the world they lived in, without forgetting the future.

Peter and John, and their fates, are worth thinking on.

——————————————————————————————————————————–

 

If you want to be “ahead of their time” 500 years from now, I think Reaction is a very good tack to take.  Be prepared for a lot of failure in your life, but console yourself that you’re on the right side.  I make no judgment here, as Asimov says (or does he?) “In a good cause, there are no failures.”

Man, I don’t know if I can hack that.  This is a barefaced plea of weakness.  I just had a crush on a girl in my class and went to the Internet and found pickup, and dug and dug and dug, and here I am, with various holy charges.  Someone, sometime, will effect a restoration of English magic, and it will be a great thing.  But I will not be that person.  I have petty, personal, boring, seriouslypleasedropit-specific problems of my own, but they’re very real and that is not in the least diminished by their lack of sexiness.

This is all of us.  If your ideals seem achievable, then they’re probably not high enough.  We all of us have a wide gulf between the Good and what we are.  We have to make peace how we deal with that gap.  Play for longevity.

Recommended reading:  the parable of the unrighteous steward, Asimov’s “In a Good Cause—“

The Various Audiences Of This Blog

I am much, much better at thinking than writing.  Another way to put this is that I’m just crappy at writing.

 

I started this blog in 2013 to participate/aid in/contribute to what had been named the “Manosphere.”  Around that time I discovered Moldbug and fell in with the neoreactionaries, and sometime (I don’t remember when!) I discovered the Jr. Ganymede, a group blog of/by/for Mormons of my stripe (intellectual, Romantic (capital-R), hungering and thirsting after righteousness).

These audiences have many similarities, but they have a good number of differences too.  A not-inconsiderable amount of effort in my writing here is spent tailoring posts for their various different audiences.

If it’s so much effort, why not create several different blogs? Probably because I want the best for all of those groups, and I believe they can help each other.  Distance and anonymity are the fence; given that, my secret wish is for us all to be neighbors.  There is also the practical matter of duplication of work.  I would rather require a bit more work/understanding of my readers (nrx: “Oh right, he’s the Mormon guy,” LDS: “Oh, right, he hangs out with Sith online.”) than sterilize myself for universal appeal.  I still aim for universal appeal, of course, but I don’t mind putting a bit more of the burden on you, reader, more than I used to.

So…why am I still writing?  I am well aware that I am not exactly a shining light of any particular blogosphere.  Why not pack up shop?  Because I’m a crappy writer.  I still have some insights I hope to share.

As for a unique contribution, the ambiguity thing.  We have a ton of information these days, but what is lacking is context.  I hold out hope that we can be better at navigating the modern intellectual landscape  (high-information, low-understanding) than we are.  One aim of this blog is to help us get there.  If the “patron saints” of Albion Awakening are Lewis and Tolkien, then Alan Kay might be the equivalent for here, purely for his statement that “A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”

If you’re reading this, I’m probably on your side, for some value of “side.”

Carry on.

Fulfilment and Metamorphosis

I have two conflicting intuitions, and I am quite sure of both of them.

The first is that we are to become “new creature[s],” that we are not merely supposed to “be good,” but that we are supposed to be good in a new way, a way impossible for our old selves.

The second, of course, is that each of us is irreplaceable, unique, and good, and that, if not on first look, but definitely on second, we will be clearly recognizeable in our final state to those who know us now.  Major changes are needed, to be sure, but they involve sharpening, refining, and clarifying—not hacking, mutilating, or mutating.

Hazards of Endarkenment

I do not think it wise to dwell overmuch on the dark.   Our faith lets us know right from the beginning that we are only seeing a part of the entire picture—and not merely that, but a chaotic, incoherent part.  Heaven is orderly, Hell discordant—therefore we can learn a little about all of Heaven (and creation) by glimpsing only a small part,  whereas Hell carries no such guarantees, at war with itself.

And yet.  Here we are.  Darkly enlightened.

It is, of course, something of an affectation to use the word “dark.”  Why should any particular knowledge be inherently dark?  And yet there are various factors that move us in that direction:

– we see widespread lies, sin, and ignorance

– we see conflicts between genders, races, and religions that are not solvable by simply “getting along”

– those who would prefer to believe in easier answers to the these dilemmas often shoot the messengers.  If enough people tell you you’re dark, you start to believe it.

– this by itself cannot help but be a cynical-making experience.  Having found a bit of truth, and seeing it consistently rejected, tends to make one see the glass as half-empty

– the magnitude of the opposition, and the broad vistas opened by what we’ve learned, can throw into sharp relief the nobility and beauty of the heights we can achieve…but they also ratchet up where we “should” be.   And despite an intellectual belief in Grace…I mean, maybe you only found the Red Pill because Grace wasn’t coming through, you know?

One of the dangers of being the sole local possessor of knowledge you find important, is that there is no one that can talk you out of it when that knowledge condemns you.  Benevolence isn’t enough: they are ignorant.

If you’re not careful, you can start to abandon the quest for peace as hopeless, and settle for superiority:

O blind your eyes and break your heart and hack your hand away,
And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay
At the little place in What’sitsname where folks are rich and clever;
The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever;

(The Aristocrat, Chesterton)

That line about things “grow[ing] worse for ever” is really a horrifying one.  It doesn’t mean simple decline; it means actual growth, self-transformation, in the wrong direction.  It is one thing to heal the wounded; it is quite another when someone has voluntarily begun to grow venom sacs under their armpits.  The Savior healed the blind with some clay; but reversing a reptilian tint to the eyes, once it has set in, might be a bit more involved.

But even if you resist, your aspiration works against you.  You know, walking home from the grocery store, that superiority is both illusory and not the point.  But that places you not one iota closer to where you should be.  My father had three kids at my age, you think.  And he did it on the East Coast.  What kind of natalist-traditionalist am I, a single Mormon dude in Provo with easy access to a dating pool worth killing for, and no prospects in sight.  If I’m the hope of the West, well, we might as well pack it up.  And you know that this very attitude makes it worse—which, alas, doesn’t make it wrong.

Be someone’s rock?  Reassure that everything will be all right?  I’m Darkly Enlightened, I’m nowhere near qualified for that job.  If only that meant anyone else was.  You can name five different reasons things will not be alright, and you are very, very confident you can defend them.  But the fact of their incompetence does nothing to solve yours.

I’m supposed to provide validation?  I need validationAnd I don’t know a single person I trust to give it.  Do they even aristocrat, brah?

And finally it comes to me.   There is one person who will accept my efforts without trying to dissuade me from my aspirations.  And you consider: have I been properly meek?  Were I bid to wash in the Jordan seven times, would I?  Have I done the equivalent?  Perhaps not.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.