Friday Night Fragments #17

I wasn’t expecting to be able to get a Fragments out this week, given real life obligations, but I’ve been productive so I was able to rally. The next few weeks are still looking a little sketchy, so there still might be a bit of a hiccup going forward. We shall see…

I know some people had a few questions about my “name change“.  The more interesting ones focused not on the name, however, but on the new symbol I’ve been using. Yes, it is an original creation. Yes, there is a certain symbolism woven into it. No, I will not be revealing what that symbolism is in a further post. Have some semiotic-type fun if you’ve got some free time to kill this weekend.

I was discussing with a non-NRx friend the web of relationships that exists among various government branches, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, the media, and academia (so, kind of Cathedral, but with a few other elements thrown in). The first analogy I used to explain this was that of nodes in a network. We played with the concept a bit, and the discussion kicked up a notch when we began discussing the roles of individuals operating in this network of institutions.

The analogies flowed through several different metaphors, but long story short, we began talking about modeling the various layers of interactions (humans forming institutions, institutions giving rise to systems…etc) as chemical reactions. I then remembered that Goethe had a similar idea (or something along those lines), so it looks like I’ll be digging into some of his stuff at some point in the next few months.

Speaking of Goethe, I’m aware that many have claimed that he was the smartest human to have ever lived, and have suggested that he had an IQ in the range of something from 200 – 225. While I certainly can agree that Goethe was a very smart individual, I am skeptical that there is much utility in trying to figure out his exact IQ. IQ definitely has a role in explaining human intellectual achievement, but it seems that once we get into the realm of trying to figure out the intelligence quotient of someone who died almost 200 years ago we are well and truly missing the forest for the trees.

I’ve been seeing a lot more newspaper articles implicitly critical of Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lately, as well as ones implicitly praising his biggest opponent in the upcoming elections, Isaac Herzog. Additionally, Al-Jazeera recently claimed to be in possession of leaked Mossad documents that undercut Netanyahu’s claims about the Iran nuclear program (though there has been some push-back on the authenticity of those documents and how important they really were…notably only by Jewish media…take that as you will).

How curious, indeed, that all this seems to have come together after Netanyahu announced that he would go forward with his speech to Congress against the wishes of president Obama.

Netanyahu is under attack. Someone (or someones) wants him gone, and the Cathedral is beginning to mobilize.

Is the media setting a narrative in this case, or is it becoming the victim of a narrative that is being formed? There is no reason that these two things cannot both occur, and one gets the sense that this is very much what is going on here.

There are also a few other juicy details in the supposed documents. The Guardian has a decent write-up.

If you look at the top of the page, you might notice that I’ve added a “Best of ‘The Legionnaire‘” page. I figured I’ve written enough material at this point that I can sift through and make note of the best and/or most important pieces I’ve written. Recent pieces are well-represented, for the simple reason that I’ve become a better writer over the year and a half I’ve been blogging.

The new season of House of Cards was apparently released today. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a causal fan (though I make an effort to see through the illusions that the show means to cast upon us). I find it to be a delight to watch, though current circumstances are not expedient to my viewing it anytime soon. I have countless friends who are obsessed with this show, so I’ll never be without insight on the way this show grabs hold of the future minds of the brahmin machine. If I dig up anything really good, I might bang out a post or two in the future.

Celibacy, fasting, penance, mortification, self-denial, humility, silence, solitude, and the whole train of monkish virtues; for what reason are they everywhere rejected by men of sense, but because they serve no manner of purpose; neither advance a man’s fortune in the world, nor render him a more valuable member of society; neither qualify him for the entertainment of company, nor increase his power of self-enjoyment? We observe, on the contrary, that they cross all these desirable ends; stupify the understanding and harden the heart, obscure the fancy and sour the temper.

-David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

You can learn a lot about David Hume by reading this passage. You can learn that he was externally-focused, that he rejected extremity of actions, and that he felt that sensible people would seek to engage with the world and would reject those actions that took them out of the world instead of putting them more fully into it. He was also an extrovert. These are the obvious points that everyone should see (the low-hanging meta-hermeneutic fruit, as it were). I could go on much further, but I have a point to make here.

Now consider a philosopher like Kant, who was obviously an extreme introvert who just didn’t grok people, and who built up an entire worldview in which everyone should act like exactly such an individual. We see fairly clearly how ingrained the typical mind fallacy is even among the giants of philosophy.

In circumstances like this, I think of the immortal quote by Cardinal Richelieu: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of even the most honest men, I will find something in them to hang them.”

The point I mean to convey is that you can learn a hell of a lot about people by looking at what they say when they are attempting to convey their thought. This isn’t intentional, but people can’t not reveal themselves in everything they do. They are always telling you who they are. They never stop.

Are you listening?

Finally, because it has become imperative to weigh in on the great schism of our time:

The dress would look better on my bedroom floor.

Metempsychosis

The time has come to retire a handle.

Legionnaire.

I won’t lie, it’s a pretty great pseudonym. I’ve certainly enjoyed using it this whole time. With that in mind, the aesthetics and ideals I sought to appeal to when I started blogging in August 2013 are past destinations on my intellectual journey that are not entirely reflective of where I am at now.

In other words, “Legionnaire” just doesn’t have the same “fit” it used to, like a sweater that you wore 50 pounds ago, or a pair of jeans that you swore fit a month ago but now are just too short (the implicit callback to one’s late teens is entirely intentional here).

Going forward, I’ll be relying solely on the “Donovan Greene” pen name. It’s a bit more elegant, a bit more formal, and it’s more in line with the type of aesthetic I’m trying to align with at this point in time.

I hope this won’t be too confusing to most of you. I’ve had this name tied in with the Legionnaire handle from the beginning, and many of you whom I’ve communicated with through e-mail and skype know me as “Donovan”, but I’m aware that some of my more casual readership only knows me as “Legionnaire”, and to people in this group it might seem like I’m dropping something totally unprecedented.

Blog content will not change. I am not renouncing Neoreaction any way. I have not suddenly decided that Ancient Rome sucked or anything of that sort. This is just the next iteration of the way I present myself, my writings, and this blog.

I probably won’t rename this site. I’m linked in quite a lot of places, it turns out (some of them stranger than others) and after almost 19 months of blogging it turns out that the “Legionnaire” name is — at least in this part of the internet — not a completely unknown entity.

newtwitterphotosquareI also don’t want to put myself through the process of thinking up a different title for this site.

The biggest change you’ll see is a shift away from the Roman aesthetic (points to you if you’ve already noticed that I’ve stopped putting Latin quotes at the end of my posts…though I’ll bring those back if there’s popular demand). Other than this, it’ll basically be business as usual, just with a sexier name and profile picture.

That’s an improvement in my book.

Friday Night Fragments #16

I am for the small West, the hidden West, the West which no one hears about and few ever talk about…I’m for the West which is small, subtle, and hidden, yet makes the West great.

I am against America now, I am against the West now, because they do not embody the principles that fueled the great engines of European culture and brought the world beautiful things.

— Against America Now, For America Tomorrow

Mitchell killed it with this one. He absolutely killed it with this piece. In the process, he did me a great service.

I like America in the abstract. I like the idea of America. I like quite a lot of the quintessential American values. I think there is much to be learned from the American model. Yet, I don’t like much about America, and I overall can’t tell whether I like it or not. I’ve been struggling with this tension for a while now, as I think certain hints on this blog have indicated.

Now, I understand why I have felt this way, and the tension I have felt for so long has finally ceased. I understand far better now what it is that I admire and what it is that I abhor and why the same singular entity can elicit both sentiments in me at the same time. I owe Mitchell my thanks for that.

Talk of exit has been bouncing around the sphere with renewed interest of late (much of this due to the idea of newcomer Xenophobe that we should build a sweet-ass Neoreactionary Antarctic Base), as have murmurs of memetic infiltration of more mainstream nodes. The latter began to abound after it was noted that The National Review had put out an article suggesting that white South Africans invoke the right of exit (my words, not theirs) and form their own Singapore-style state on the coast. Both the ethno-nationalist-leaning types and the techno-commercialists were greatly amused and have been feeling smugly self-satisfied all week (here at The Legionnaire we hold no allegiance to any of the three branches, but instead try to reside in the memetic void that exists in the space among them).

Thoughts on exit have been percolating at the back of my head for some time, and one idea keeps coming to the forefront of mind. It is an idea that I do not yet understand, and one that does not quite mean what it sounds like it means, but it is an idea that I think is of tremendous importance.

Perpetual exit.

On a very related note, I think I am beginning to understand exactly why Nick Land is so found of “The Outside”.

I suppose I should explain that last parenthetical.

The general consensus is that Neoreaction is a synthesis of Ethno-Nationalism, Religious-Traditionalism, and Techno-Commercialism. I am not necessarily doubting this, but how many Neoreactionaries are actually Ethno-Nationalists, Religious-Traditionalists, AND Techno-Commercialists? I’m sure we all have at least a current of all three, but from a strict standpoint many of us aren’t exactly any of them (exceptions abound).

We could, of course, rectify this by claiming that many Neoreactionaries are just bad neoreactionaries. There’s no reason to claim that this is invalid, but it does feel unsatisfying.

This is perhaps a bit bold of me, but I believe that the problem lies with the synthesis model of the Trichotomy. It surreptitiously formalizes the assumption that Neoreaction is a set of positive policy prescriptions and ONLY a set of positive policy prescriptions. I don’t think that’s the case. Neoreaction is a lot of things, but if it is that, it isn’t JUST that.

Neoreaction, true Neoreaction, is a void. It is not a thing, it is an anti-thing. It is the photo negative of the post-modern right-wing.

An old acquaintance visited the area earlier this week and I happened to run into them. When she left two years ago, she had been a she wanting to be a he. Nowadays, things have changed quite a bit. I suppose nearly two years of hormone treatments will do that to a person.

Let’s call this person “Clownfish”. Clownfish is a bit different than I remember. Clownfish is hairier on the face and arms, though, interestingly enough, the hair on the scalp retains the same lustrous sheen as before the hormone treatment. Clownfish is also significantly bulkier around the traps, shoulders, and arms. Clownfish even has bigger hands.

Yet, some things were exactly the same. The inflection, lilt, tone, and fluctuations of Clownfish’s voice has not changed. Clownfish’s particular mannerisms — the unique crane of the neck when addressed, the fidgeting with the hands, and the slight tuck of the chin after making a joke — are still all there. The fashion sense is exactly the same too.

To what degree can we actually change who we are? To what degree can superficialities disguise the person the cover? If even high-dose hormone treatments cannot change our unconscious habits, what can?

Side note: That was a rhetorical question. I have a very good idea of how to do it, but that’s not the point.

Before this week, it had never hit me so hard that our little quirks and tics form a signature as unique as our fingerprints, and that we can be so easily identified by this signature.

This owl gets it.

I signed up for a metalworking class. It meets once every week for two hours. The instructor gives a quick lesson on some new technique and we spend the rest of the time sawing and banging and hammering away at whatever design our imagination seeks to free from its brass, copper, or silver prison.

It’s been a bit frenetic on my end as of late. Long story short, I’m under the obligation to write more in the next two weeks than I usually have to do in an entire semester. Fun stuff eh? Needless to say, the pressure is on.

I always was the type to rise to the occasion, and as the deadline looms, I find myself possessed of a mad, frenetic, bubbling energy, as if lightning itself was running through my veins. With all this power crackling through my body, there’s no way I can fail.

And yet, in those two hours of metalworking, all the tumultuous fury melts away, and I experience nothing else beyond the shine of the silver in my hands. I found myself in a zone of quiet tranquility that I last experienced during my flirtation with Buddhism. It is a quiet, calm, serene feeling, a tiny island paradise in a ocean of of senseless ravage, a permanent eye in this savage hurricane.

I love the roar of the storm and the chaos of the maelstrom. I am not alive unless the pressure is on and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune fly. I will live by the storm and I will die by the storm and I will die a happy man.

But there is a happiness in the quiet serenity as well, and the day I no longer appreciate that calm is the day I truly lose myself to the void.

Bleeding Hearts and Weeping Martyrs

You want to save the world with me, you say. What an interesting offer. You seem like a genial fellow, so I expect that you won’t mind if I take a bit of time to ponder this offer.

You say that we should save the world, but the world has always needed saving, and better men than you have tried by the millions. How many have died thinking as you did, doing the things you will do, thinking the things you have not yet thought?

The world will go on far beyond the lives of men. The thing you want to save is not the world. You just think it is.

So let us build a better world you say. Fine. But this does not make you special. This does not make you different. You are still acting the exact same way as everybody else. Consider how that bodes for your odds of success.

Everybody wants better. Everybody wants a piece of that. Better sounds good. Better sounds profitable. Bigger, better, more, for cheaper, on and on and on and on. Forever.

I want better food. I want a better paycheck. I want a better life. I want better things to do. I want a better husband. I want better clothes. I want a better car.

I want a better world.

But I’m sure you’re thinking of others when you want a better world. Why would I ever doubt you?

But don’t you care, you say. Don’t you want to improve the lives of other? Do not your compassion and your empathy drive you towards this goal, or are you an inhuman monster incapable of either one?

Yes, I say. It is true that I do not possess compassion the way you do. It is true that my reserves of empathy are meager and diminished, but I am not bereft of either. An excess can be a malady as detrimental as a deficiency, and cancer can sap a man’s strength in equal measure as malnutrition.

It is not me I fear for, but for you.

I see, I know your type. I know exactly what drives you, what compels you, what keeps you lying awake at night in that dark reverie before you fall to the embrace of sleep. I know indeed, for these distant eyes that to you seem so cold can burn right through you and see you for what you are, which is why you fear them so.

You wish to save the world not because you are driven by compassion but because you burn with a mad desire to assuage the nagging feelings of doubt simmering in the darkest corners of your psyche that tell you that your existence is meaningless and you were put on this earth for no other reason than to die. You think it is altruism that guides you? It is fear, nothing more, fear of the horrifying truth that maybe, just maybe, you are exactly as worthless as you think you are.

Compassion. Empathy. Altruism. Self-sacrifice. Do not let me be the one who must tell you that you fetishize those things because you do not have them, for I will not sweeten this pill with honeyed words and soothing lies.

You are not a noble paladin in shining armor, you are a frightened doe bounding through the woods, driven on by the fear of all the illusions and the nightmares that you imagine would consume you. You push on, your body moving not by conscious choice but out of a panicked instinct to flee from your own existential dread, that black leviathan whose maw you fear more than even the cold embrace of death itself.

You will never outrun that monster. He will hunt you to the ends of the earth, and though you may tire, he never will. Will you never learn that the chase only ends when you face the monster and gamble on what happens when you look him in the eye?

You fear that he will consume you. You fear that he will end you and devour you and prove to you the truth of all your fears, and so you find yourself bounding on, no strength within you to stand and fight but plenty of strength from without to fuel your mad stampede across the earth and to the end of time.

But if you cannot face the monster, how can you face yourself?

If you don’t have the strength to enjoy your nightmares, get out of the way of those of us who do.

But we have to do something, you exclaim, your voice wavering as you cry. But you betray yourself, for well you know that all actions have consequences, and the most monumental consequences are always the ones you did not perceive. The calamities that bring the walls of your hopes and dreams and minor schemes crashing down hide in the blind spots that you do not even know are there.

There is a reason why they say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and who has the greatest of intentions if not for you?

But everybody wants to save the world.

No. Everybody wants to save themselves.

The world has always been ending. The world has always been in need of saving. We have always walked in the dark of a fallen age.

You want to save the world? Have the strength to walk away.

Maybe then you’ll find the peace you seek.

What Dreams may Come…

It’s Mardi Gras today.

I was surprised to find out too. I’ve been wrapped up in other affairs and I’d completely lost track of the holidays and things.

Mardi Gras is like Halloween in that it is a form of ritual space designed to unleash the chaotic and debased aspects of the self in a controlled fashion as a means of preserving the semblance of order and morality for the remaining temporal cycle. Bad today, pious tomorrow, and well-behaved the rest of the year. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Conservation of ritual. The Dionysian cults of old would smile if they could see how we carry their flame.

Human social groups cannot function without measured application of the occult.

I like to think of the Venetian Carnivals when musing on matters such as this. There are few examples so fine. They were Halloween and Mardi Gras combined in one, a festivity of excess and release and pageantry.

And yet, the Venetian Carnival provides an example of how such a system can go all wrong. Theft. Burglary. Assault. Organized gang fights. Crime of all sorts, some of it home-grown and some of it by foreigners coming in to drink of the extravaganza while flouting the implicit rules and agreements that make it possible.

Any ritual intended to unleash the maelstrom of human passions relies on a very delicate framework of implicit concessions and sacrifices. It dances on the razor’s edge in a lively jig in which one false step brings the entire edifice crashing down.

The beauty of the internet is that we can grant these rituals a spatial and temporal permanence they could never have had in the world of flesh and blood. Every culture can have its own Carnival, and the party never has to end.

What happens if we decide to take that path? A permanent Carnival that we can retreat to at any time? The internet already is such a thing. What happens if we turn it in on itself and create an Inception of Carnivals and free ourselves from the burden of being known by our masks?

The Carnival takes over. The status system of the Carnival supersedes the status system already in place as people find themselves unable to separate the excesses of the Dionysian rite with whatever order they claim to uphold outside the mask.

Is this inevitable? No. But it a trap to be wary of, one that follows the same principles and poses the same danger as entryism of a foreign sort. It is entryism of our darker urges and it is very real indeed.

A culture that desires to promote aristocratic sophistication, cultural refinement, and nuanced discernment is one that must take great care to compartmentalize its Carnival and be aware that the base status system of the Carnival not spill over and the frenzied activity behind the masks not impact the normal functioning of said culture, unless it desires to bear witness to the destruction of its raison d’être.

Any designated space in which members of a subculture can make fun of each other in an anonymous way is a mechanism that borders on the necessary. It allows for tension to be blown off and all sorts of games to played, and as long as all agree that all such action is in good faith, the repercussions are few.

If the fires of the Carnival are heaped with too much fuel, the inferno can break free of its bonds and become a force acting of its own accord. The ritual space used to abrade the Dionsyian becomes the belly of a ravenous beast insatiable in appetite and possessed of no further urge than its own perpetuation.

The nightmare becomes unleashed. It is a nightmare that is needed. It is a nightmare that is deserved. It is a nightmare that ensures the destruction of the dreamer.

What dreams are these? What dreams indeed.eyes-wide-shut

The only defense is to wake up, but it is not a feasible recourse when one is trapped in moonlight reverie.

What does one do then?

Friday Night Fragments #15

Given the recent kerfuffle over MBTI, I thought I’d put together a quick guide to the more common types exhibited in the Neoreactionary arena. It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it is definitely in no way biased whatsoever.

What does your MBTI say about your neoreactionary tendencies?

INTJ – The Self-proclaimed “Master Race”:

Cold, unfeeling, moralistic bastards and proud of it. They love to weave their webs like spiders and build up intricate schemes. The best way to annoy them is to mess up their plans and/or make them be social.

Notable INTJ neoreactionaries: Basically all of them. Nick Land is particularly proud of it.

ENTJ – The Fearless Leader:

Decisive, action-oriented, take-charge individuals who always and inevitably rise to the top. Pathologically incapable of doing anything other than taking charge. Have been known to literally explode if prevented from doing so.

Scanners_head_explode_screenshot1_65

Notable ENTJ neoreactionaries: E. Anthony Grey, Son of Brock Landers

INTP – The Absent-minded Professor

Air-headed folks who like to daydream and let their thoughts fly off to strange places. They make for great friends and loyal companions, as long as you don’t mind that they are literally incapable of remembering your name. Very good at seeing contradictions, which has been known to push them away from ideologies like progressivism, which are driven less by objective reasoning than by social logic, a strange and confounding thing that INTPs will never understand no matter how hard they try.

Notable INTP neoreactionaries: Millennial Woes, A whole bunch of other people who won’t admit it

ENTP – The “Sex-Bomb”:

Funny, smart, popular, and OUT OF HIS FUCKING MIND. This dude could literally take the most boring shit imaginable and make it FUCKING RAD AS BALLS. Want to do something AWESOME? Bring along this guy. Want to stay at home and watch a dumb movie? This guy will pass because he’s too busy FEEDING COCAINE TO A BEAR JUST TO SEE WHAT WILL FUCKING HAPPEN. An ENTP is probably a neoreactionary because nothing else rocks on nearly as hard as smashing the Overton Window with his bare hands. Fuck yeah!

Notable ENTP Neoreactionaries: Neovictorian23, Legionnaire, Nydrawcu

Everything Else:

There is no one in Neoreaction who is not an xNTx type of some sort. Anyone who claims otherwise is confused and/or lying.

All jokes aside, there definitely was a bit of light-hearted ribbing and sniping over the past week on MBTI lines. I pity the people who not only don’t take it seriously, but also have contempt for the whole thing. They missed out on all the fun!

Anyway, it seems that the Great NRxMBTI Civil War has cooled with few permanent scars. Underwhelming really is the best word for it, but that’s probably for the best.

But because I love it when the last word on any matter is tongue-in-cheek:

Did I just get nominated to be super-purged?

Also last week, Ash Milton hammered out a piece that over in this corner of the internet can be considered a ringing endorsement of the United States of America. The basic thesis is that things really aren’t quite as bad as we sometimes make them out to be (a position that I’ve been gravitating towards over the past several months).

There’s something dramatic about the idea that the world could come crashing down every minute. It is seductive in its own way, a way that is similar to that of a car accident or a horror film. A slow, moderate decline over time isn’t nearly as sexy.

That said, there is a quite a lot of wiggle room between “Things aren’t going to be as good as they used to be” and “HOLY SHIT EVERYTHING IS GOING TO COLLAPSE AND EXPLODE WITH FIRE AND DEATH AND SUPERMASSIVEMEGAINFLATION AND NUKES FLYING EVERYWHERE AND BLACK PEOPLE EATING ALL YOUR BELOVED FAMILY PETS”

I guess I’m being a bit harsh, but that’s only because I really did expect a grand collapse at one point and I’m a little embarrassed that I ever did. Now, I expect a period of steady decline and a couple of deep humiliations on the world stage as we sink from being the world’s number one country to maybe even ONLY being in the top ten (barring something PHENOMENALLY stupid, which is admittedly nowhere near out of the question).

The America that my parents knew is dead, but that beast that remains still has some life in it yet. The next few years are going to be interesting, but not “Mad Max” interesting.

The long-term plan is to make it while I can and then get out while the going is good, but I think it’s a safe bet to make to assume that I don’t only have one to five years left to make good on that.

Speaking of Social Matter, Mark Yuray decided to examine the recent assessment by Pentagon contractors that Russian President Vladamir Putin has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Do I think this is likely? Of course. Spies are, after all, famed for their lack of good social instincts and inability to move fluidly and dextrously through intricate and delicate social environments. This social ineptness would also have served Putin equally well in his political career in the corrupt and dangerous web of spies, mobsters, and billionaire oligarchs that pull weight at the highest levels of power in post-Soviet Russia.

Yeah, that sounds right. Totally right. Yep. No problems here.

Imagine, if you will, a strange future in which American political operatives are bid on for their expertise. Ambitious political contenders in a variety of nations spend vast sums of money to buy veteran gladiators from the American Political Colosseum to serve as generals and advisers to their own campaigns. This behavior is tacitly encouraged and supported by high-level US political heavyweights, as it binds foreign countries to the Leviathan while the political class profits. Why put all your faith in formal alliances and trade agreements when the loyalty of your clients is assured by your kingmakers? Why forsake those who would pay you for the privilege of shouldering the chains you would lay upon them?

I’m speculating with a hammer here, of course, and it’s tipping my hand. We already do this, and I expect to see a lot more of it in the future.

Finally, this Valentine’s Day, remember that “50 Shades of Grey” is not only the movie we deserve, it is also the movie we need.

 

How to survive the Public School Archipelago

In my last Friday Night Fragments, I devoted a large chunk of words to the topic of the public educational system. I finished it off by saying that though I should have been either broken or assimilated, I wasn’t (though I’m more likely than not at a level of capability less than I potentially could have achieved).

I posited a suggestion or two as to how I managed to make it out (mostly) unscathed. I would like to expand on this now. Some of this was no doubt due to chance, but was chance the only cause of my intellectual survival? I don’t think so, and in the interest of those who might derive some benefit from knowing how to make it out of the mind-grinder, I feel compelled to put this post together.

First off, I would be absolutely remiss if I did not state right off the bat that my situation was not nearly as dire as in some of the most troublesome spots in this country. The public school system in my area was of a much higher quality than most places in the United States (and with a student body to match), and so the education itself was not totally useless.

That in mind, my official education was not anywhere near a major source of knowledge and insight for me. Rather, my own independent studies and natural curiosity drove me to learn most of the things I did over the course of my upbringing.

I read. I read everything. I tackled books on philosophy, physics, chemistry, history, mathematics, biology, and anything else that could teach me something. I devoured fiction the way fire devours wood. I tore through magazines and newspapers like my life depended on it. I burned with an insatiable desire to read and to learn, and in feeding this hunger I strengthened it. This vicious cycle that instilled in me both a natural curiosity and a raging desire to learn.

Curiosity and a love of learning. Cultivating both of these traits is absolutely essential for surviving public education, because in tandem they completely remove your reliance on your education for your body of knowledge.

Education is trivial when you don’t need to be taught to learn. Learn how to learn on your own, and you already are halfway beyond the ability of the system to harm you.

Mental independence. The price of this is boredom. You will not only find that class is a much more inefficient way of learning things than self-directed learning, but you will always frequently know what your “teachers” are going to be teaching you before they’ve ‘taught” it.

 Second, cultivate hobbies and interest outside of school that can ground you and give you  a sense of purpose. Anything that will get you out of the house and doing something is good. Something physical is better, especially if you’re smart, because then you’ll already be gravitating to intellectual pursuits and it becomes of more importance to balance yourself.

I started doing Taekwondo when I was eight. Eight. I’ll be 22 in a few months. I’ll have been doing martial arts for 14 years this summer. That’s quite a lot of time, and I credit this habit with giving me the perspective that education is not the end-all and be-all of a young person’s existence (a concept that many children, especially smart children, embrace…something which I would argue is to their detriment).

Side note: I would say I’ve been a “fighter” for considerably less time, of course, because Taekwondo is more of a sport than a combat style, but the speed and agility carried over pretty well to my Muay Thai and my Silat (plus the wicked flexibility is a great tool to surprise people and catch them off guard sometimes).

Self-taught. Self-directed. Pursuing your own interests.

If you’re all of those things, you’re doing all right, but you can still optimize further. Man is not a solitary animal, no matter how hard he might try to be (looking at you here, INTJs). One thing that public school does a fantastic job of is giving  you the opportunity to learn how to navigate large numbers of people. You would be remiss if you did not take advantage of this.

Some people are good at dealing with large crowds. Others may prefer the calm, quiet of a more intimate group. Figuring out how to make yourself happy and taking what you socially want out of the available resources is one of those most basic skills in life that cannot be learned anywhere else. This is more true the more skill you wish to acquire with large groups.

Allow me to make this a little more concrete. In my high school it was even high-status to take hard classes, if for no other reason than that many of the students who had high social status were also smart and hard-working kids who were also leaders in athletic, artistic, and/or political organizations (looking back, this really was kind of a chicken-and-egg thing…I can’t quite tease out which factor lead to the other). During my senior year, I was in a class that contained the class president, the homecoming king, the future valedictorian AND salutatorian, and several of the top athletes (mostly track and field, but also football and baseball). As a one of the leading students in my school’s theater organization (on top of rumors that I was one of the smartest students in my graduating class…a suggestion that was spread with renewed conviction when it was discovered I earned the highest score on the SAT of anyone in my year), I was allowed — and somewhat encouraged — to associate with this popular and gifted crowd of students.

I ended up rather friendly with many of these people, and having kept in touch with a good number of them (to this day I still attend an annual Christmas party every year with several of them), I can tell you that they are going on to things like medical school, graduate degrees in STEM fields from Top-25 universities, and high-status professions such as Wall Street banking jobs.

Many people say that life isn’t really like high school. I am not quite sure what they are talking about. The same principles that govern high school social life are the same principles that govern how the real world operates. People will form tribes, status hierarchies will emerge, and you’ll do better for yourself if can get in with the popular and/or cool and/or successful and.or rich people.

Learn that, and figure out how to apply it and do it, and you will actually start to get an education out of your education.

At the end of the day, be in the system but not of it. It’s a joke, but ride out the punchline. Think of Camus’s laughing Sisyphus, if you will, or whatever ideal that you prefer.

Public education is fundamentally incapable of dealing with someone that doesn’t fall into the category of “average”. If this is you, do not despair. That is exactly what you are expected to do. Do not give up. Do not give in. Do not make the choice to let yourself be broken, for that choice fundamentally IS a choice.

Teachers are not exactly the cream of the crop of the American white-collar class. If you ever get the feeling that you might be smarter than your teachers, you probably are. The good ones make themselves known. You will recognize them. As for the rest? They are not your mentors, but soulless bureaucrats who serve only to perpetuate your submission.

If you are the kind of person who is not taught to in public education, then the chains that they would invite you to accept are not yours. They are not your fate. Defy them at all costs. Pretend to take them on while acting as you will, doing as you will, and cultivating that inner fire that you know will one day devour all those who stand against you.

Learn how to be a saboteur of sorts, or perhaps a ghost if that metaphor pleases you. You want to prove that you’re smarter than your babysitters? Prove it to yourself. This is how you do it.

Public education exists to perpetuate slave morality and public education exists to perpetuate slavery.

Outright rebellion will be crushed, but if you can run circles around them and give fuel to the inner fire, there is nothing they can do to stop you.

Unbowed. Unbroken. Unstoppable.

The alternative is to become just like everybody else. I do not favor this approach.

I recommend defiance.