You’re Going to Lose

Last post I talked about two experiences I had that serve as types for life: playing boring board games with weird people and making it (as much as possible) fun for their sake, and sitting in a hot tub with cool people.  You should read it.  No, seriously.  Here.

Now, what were we talking about in that hot tub that interested me so?

(eyeroll)  Game, duh.

Ok, so it wasn’t game.  It was “social dynamics.”

In particular, those of my alma mater, BYU.  For a town as insignificant as Provo, UT, some of its inhabitants sure don’t seem to think so.  While many (most) of its students are sensible, kind, and down to earth, there are certain apartment complexes in which the residents are, um…not.  Spray tans and hair gel abound.  This wouldn’t be so bad except that, needless to say, beautiful women instinctively flock to this place:

So here I am in this hot tub talking about Babylon-in-Zion.

And one of the things we note is that its natural residents can tell if you belong or not:

I was at this party and I thought, whatever, I’ll just talk to some random girl.  And there’s this girl standing next to me, who is (of course) drop-dead gorgeous, and I say, So who do you know here?  And she says, Oh, I know this person, that person, and that person, etc., pointing around the room.  And I say, Oh, cool, I know those guys over there in the lederhosen.  And she looks at me and says, I don’t know that word, and turns away.

Reader, I laughed, I cried!  Because I moved to these complexes on purpose, thinking, “Oh, they can’t be that bad,” and the above story, while told by a friend of mine, pretty much sums up my experience.  They were that bad.

But back to the sixth sense.  Could the residents really smell fear on you, i.e. what was it that made it so hard to “pass” among them?

One thing we agreed on was that they were clannish.  They understood what we so seldom tell people for fear of discouraging generosity: when you associate with uncool people, in any capacity, you very often become less cool yourself—the only exception being predatory behavior.  In a population raised to care for the one, they had grasped the truth that sticking with the ninety and nine is more profitable, less risky, and looks better.

So first of all: we weren’t necessarily experiencing special exclusion.  Their default was to close ranks.

Second of all: No sixth sense is necessary when outsiders do you the favor of marking themselves by playing Operation with weird people.

* * *

“Adam’s curse was to be forced to choose between the bad, and the probably impossible.” ~ “Long Shots, Reserves

* * *

There is an Isaac Asimov story, The Evitable Conflict, in which an enormous, benevolent computer has just been entrusted with control of the world’s industries.  Efficiency, total output, and quality have all skyrocketed.  Some people don’t like a Machine running things, but in general, humanity’s future looks very bright.

Except…there are problems.  Shortages.  Overages.  Nothing catastrophic, but much worse than the perfection expected of the machine.

The Planetary Administrator tours the world, questioning the Continental Administrators.  He finds that some undersupervisors have disobeyed Multivac (though they protest that they haven’t), and have been demoted as such.  Still, the Machine ought to have been able to account for that.

What he realizes eventually is that nothing is wrong.  The Machine fed false information to those undersupervisors with anti-Machine tendencies, in order to keep them away from positions from which they could ever injure the Machine.

* * *

And so: we see generous people derided for their generosity, the proud uplifted for their pride, the wicked prospering.  I have been around this corner of the internet for seven years ever since I had a crush on a girl in my sociology class and found a Neil Strauss article.  I’ve applied my knowledge in the real world, within the constraints of chastity.  I will say: generally, if Roissy says something will work, it will work.

Our task is, knowing everything we know, to basically do the opposite of what Roissy says.  And like I just said, it will most likely not work.  In the choice between the bad and the probably impossible, we’re supposed to do the probably impossible.  And we will probably fail.  Play enough Operation, and it will stick to you.  That’s how people grow old: they get heartbroken, or have kids.

But we have the rumor that this state of affairs is not going to last forever.

Maybe after all this is over you and I can wake from the dream and be young men together again.

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6 comments on “You’re Going to Lose

  1. G. says:

    Too pessimistic, I think. I admit that the world seems that way sometimes. But there is a better aspiration. To build oases where honor prospers.

    • I have a longer reply to this than I have time for at the moment.

    • I agree that it is too pessimistic. Things I could have added: by doing kind things you place yourself in a position to meet kind people, “inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these…”, you retain your soul.

      BUT, I do not think building places where honor prospers is a worthy goal unto itself, or at least not so that the builder can relax in them. Building a retreat and then retreating to it is spacious-building behavior. I think it’s more of a Moses-doesn’t-get-to-enter-the-promised land situation.

      • G. says:

        Far from not being a worthy goal, I see it as the ultimate worthy goal. The paradigm such place is the family. Doing honorable deeds is less worthy than creating honorable people, which in turn is less worthy than creating and sustaining an institution that creates and sustains honorable people King Arthur surpasses Lancelot.

        • True, but:

          —honorable people are only honorable insomuch as they do honorable deeds
          —institutions of the type are only worthwhile insomuch as they actually create/sustain honorable people.

          The Church can be a great “place” to live. But what keeps it from being smitten is that it keeps actively making wards worse places by bringing in new members, hanging on to less-actives as long as possible, etc.

          It was good to excommunicate Kate Kelly. It was also good to refrain from doing so for a long time—even though her ward is probably in some ways a worse ward for her having been there.

  2. Jim Clay says:

    Dang, that was beautiful.

    Keep writing when the muse strikes you, please.

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