Friday Night Fragments #36

Tonight’s edition of the fragments is best enjoyed on drugs. Yes, drugs. Really!

Kidding, but not really, but still totally kidding. Maybe.

Artist Bryan Saunders is not only cursed with a name that sounds a hell of a lot like “Bernie Sanders”, but also with a strange desire to check out exactly what happens when he draws a bunch of self-portraits while on drugs. Unsurprisingly, he suffered a certain level of brain damage following the experiment.

Still, the portraits are worth checking out. Very interesting stuff.

Are computers racist? Don’t be stupid. Everything is racist.

Pattern recognition algorithms picking up on patterns in the bone structure of primate skulls? Ridiculous.

Flippant insinuations aside, it’s hard not to see a resemblance to various animals when looking at the faces of certain individuals. Look too closely, and you might see not just gorillas, but also owls and snakes and all other manner of creature. I’ve seen cats and camels and birds and I know a girl with a countenance so similar to a basset hound it’s almost eerie.

Decide for yourself what you want the implications to be.

The infamous Soapjackal wonders what it is about alcohol, feminists, and agency. It’s a good question. Here’s my crack at it.

Alcohol acts to depress our inhibitions. This results in patterns of behavior that are closer in line with how we act without the acts of calculation and conscious override. While drunk, we act in a more “authentic” fashion than usual, which gives us a glimpse into our true selves.

(Side note: If you want to keep some track of how your unconscious behavioral patterns change over time, you should periodically get black-out drunk and have a trusted accomplice record your actions and dialogue.)

If someone is lacking in agency — as understood by a certain capacity of intelligence and executive functions to exercise veto power over instincts and emotional drives — then drinking will not only further dampen their ability to control themselves, but it might also reveal to them their overall inability to exercise free will as a matter of general principle.

In other words, people who claim that alcohol strips agency from them are utilizing rationalization as a defense mechanism to protect their ego from having to admit that they aren’t capable of acting in a manner that they consciously choose. This is not to say that alcohol doesn’t make you less capable of acting with agency, but to point out that it’s a lot easier to blame an external agent like alcohol than it is to admits one’s own internal flaws.

Short version: Projection. Everything is projection. It’s projection all the way down.

Respect is a funny thing. It’s easy to disrespect people if they possess bad traits, and yet bad traits mean nothing to us if we respect them. Yet, we respect people for their traits. Or do we?

This is the will of the noble soul: they desire nothing gratis, least of all life.

He who is of the mob wants to live gratis; we others, however, to whom life has given itself — we are always considering what we can give best in return!

And truly, it is a noble speech that says: “What life has promised us, we shall keep that promise — to life!”

One should not wish to enjoy where one has not given enjoyment. And — one should not wish to enjoy!

For enjoyment and innocence are the modest things: neither want to be looked for. One should have them — but one should look rather for guilt and pain!

Of Old and New Law-Tables: §6, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche

People are generally happier when surrounded by people of their genetic heritage. This correlation is weaker as intelligence goes up. Is this because people who are smarter are more likely to lie about their affinities when taking a survey, or is there actually something going on here?

I lean towards the latter. While I couldn’t dig up the relevant post, I’m fairly certain that I’ve written before about how the more elite someone is, the more they consider “elite” to be their ethnicity and prefer to associate with other elite individuals, with such association being their preferred brand of “ethno-nationalism”, as it were.

I definitely didn’t put it like that before, but certainly am now.

It’s been a while since this blog has made mention of aesthetics.

crouching tiger

Who knows what could have happened had I let that continue?

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Book Review: Breakfast with the Dirt Cult

This post has been a long time coming.

Though I’ve almost succeeded in cleansing myself of any and all redeeming qualities, I still have this nagging tendency to live up to the promises that I keep. As such, today I live up to a promise I made quite some months ago, and review reader Samuel Finlay’s book Breakfast with the Dirt Cult.

I realized fairly early on that this was a book written straight from the heart, as one of the earliest sequences covers the meeting of Tom Walton (a barely-disguised author avatar) and the stripper Amy, a sweet and lovable girl possessing a rich intellectual and emotional depth. It’s a starting point that not only invests you heavily into the narrative, but also softens you up nicely for the turbulence ahead.

The book is essentially a novelized autobiography, and so Finlay is able to layer the narrative with the type of male banter that only a veteran could write. It provides a nice bit of levity to the story, and it helps grease the process of reading through the various pre-deployment unit shenanigans (which were certainly entertaining, although they did admittedly constitute the slowest part of the book…the calm  before the storm, as it were).

“Specialist Bastick, take it easy on my doorframes in the barracks. They haven’t been used in a while so when you bring your fat chicks up you need to grease them first.”

I often find it hard to root for the main characters in the book I read, which is perhaps why I gravitate towards non-fiction so much these days. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I didn’t have this problem with Breakfast with the Dirt Cult. The main character is, at his core, an honest and good-hearted person, which was no great shock to me, for in my brief correspondence with Mr. Finlay, I can attest that he is very much a good, honest, authentic person. It was impossible not to wish the best for him.

This, more than any other reason, was why I was wiling to review his book. Of course, his particular sense of humor didn’t hurt either.

Afghanistan in August is the geographic equivalent of trying to hump an angry, fat, red-assed baboon whilst sober.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t burst out laughing at that bit.

Were this just a book about picking up strippers and bantering with comrades, it would be an entertaining beach read. However, this is not just shallow entertainment. References abound to figures like Toynbee, Juvenal, and Ibn Khaldun, and many of the passages should have a special resonance to those across the broader alternative right.

So this was the glorious cause for which the feminists had fought. They’d struggled for, and won, a world where men were seen as the problem and women as the solution. Women were deemed inherently “right” and needed a man “like a fish needs a bicycle.” Men, however, were pigs, and were perceived as semi-functional retarded pariahs without a woman. A woman’s sexuality was good and healthy; a man’s, toxic and perverse. A woman could commit a wrong and the chattering classes would come out of the woodwork spouting Marxist bullshit to frame her as the victim rather than the perpetrator. A man, though, was guilty until proven innocent.

It’s this melding of the “high” and the “low” that made this work most intriguing to me. It oozes with the same sort of insights that Neoreaction prides itself on, while speaking from a position of being firmly rooted in the sort of down-to-earth common sense that is often absent in that which is more purely intellectual.

So long as the words were pretty and the cage was shiny people didn’t give a damn who held the key.

Is that not one of the most accurate assessments of power you’ve ever encountered?

The more Walton saw of the world, the more he found the classical thinkers to be a damn sight more sensible than the modern eggheads who held totalitarian wishful thinking as a civic religion.

At it’s core, Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is the story of a life journey. It is the story of a man who sees the world and realizes that so much is wrong with the way we do things, and yet is still powerless to do anything about it. I think many of you would be sympathetic to such a thing, and that is why I think that if you’re reading this blog, you would like this book.

Buy it here if you’re interested.

Friday Night Fragments #35

Despite having dropped Prohibition-themed fragments a few times over the past few weeks, there’s still a few ideas worth typing I’ve still not shoe-horned in yet. For example, it’s fairly well-known that almost all prohibition agents charged with enforcing the law were on the take. I find this to be an example of an interesting phenomenon: that in which private entities find themselves in a position of taking on a task either not being done or being done inefficiently by a public structure. In this case, said private entities completely nullified the effect of the public structure that opposed them: co-opting as many public agents as they could and finding ways to outwit and out-maneuver those they couldn’t.

Is there a deep state lesson here?

I noticed that #WhoisBurningBlackChurches was trending earlier this week. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea who is burning black churches, being neither a member of a black congregation nor an arsonist specializing in places of worship. However, being an individual with a brain that occasionally works, I do have a few possible idea.

1. The feds are doing it as a follow-up to their false flag attack.*

2. These events are a mere coincidence following the Charleston attack and none (or most) of these fires are the result of purposeful action.

3. Blacks are burning down their own churches and for whatever reason some in the media are trying to paint a usual pattern of activity into something unusual.

4. Some who are sympathetic to Dylann Roof’s intentions are trying to follow up and carry out their own acts.

5. Nothing of any importance is going on and people are just being the mindless apes that are every second of every day.

6. Mountains are being made out of molehills and innocuous acts or teenage shenanigans are being made out to be something far more malicious in light of the current context.

What do I believe? None of these. I don’t know what might or might not be going and I see no reason to engage in anything further than mere speculation.

*This option relies on the assumption that the Charleston attack was some kind of false flag event. I won’t deny that this is a possibility, though I categorically refuse to either believe or disbelieve any interpretation of recent events as such without compelling evidence strong enough to sway me to either conviction.

Hey, speaking of surreptitious maneuvers in the realm of the political, who else noticed that the whole Confederate Flag kerfuffle was a great smokescreen to get a bunch of groundwork laid for approval of the TTP and TTIP trade deals?

I’ll admit that I don’t know enough about these agreements to pass any kind of educated judgement on the matter, but the manner in which their implementation consists of just about every red flag possible, which makes me suspicious. If any of my readers have any good reading on the matter, I hope you share it with me.

Spend too long talking with customer service trying to fix your internet and you realize just how much the idea of enslaving proles is based mostly on emotional satisfaction. Then you take two seconds and realize that to the people who get to make the decisions as to who gets a lifeboat and who gets thrown to the impersonal forces of fate, we’re basically all proles. Relative status can be a bitch sometimes, and it makes one really, really hungry for power; not so much to wield it, but to avoid being prey for those on the top of the food chain.

In other words, I’m honestly not so much opposed to the powers that be so much as I’m interested in not being a piece of chattel they can cash in if it’s in their interest.

Isegoria links to an interesting analysis of how conspiracies usually operate. It also covers quite a bit more than that, so I’m loath to characterize this piece as just that, but if that’s not already an effective hook this might not be of great interest to you anyway. There’s quite a bit of good stuff in there about self-interest, bureaucracies, and how easy it is to mis-attribute the reasons behind the behavior of others.

The word “intent” breaks down because we do not have a handy English word to describe subconscious, institutional, or evolutionary intent. Many low-status outsiders observe the institution acting like a vampire, but they do not understand the internal dynamic, so they assume that the selfishness is conscious, when it is not. Their mistaken analysis of the internal dynamic makes them look like cranks, even though the overall observation is correct.

Because intent is so complicated, it hardly makes sense to even analyze it. To judge an institution, watch what it does. Look at the pressure that shapes its decisions.

Insiders generally know the details of how things work, but are often blind to the over-arching pattern of who is winning and who is losing. They are often quite deluded about the divergence between stated intentions and actual results.

The outsiders can see these patterns, but don’t understand the details, so come across as cranks when trying to do analysis. Should the outsiders gain authority, they have no real power, because they do not know how to work the levers to operate the machine. They don’t even know where the levers are. When they try to fix the machine, they get duped, get discredited, and end up out of power again.

Give it a good read. The read it over again to let the major points sink in a bit.

The tendency to anthropomorphize emergent phenomena has been a characteristic of humanity since at least the idea of nature spirits (and almost certainly longer than that). It’s not hard to see how a species with a record of seeing supernatural forces behind volcanoes and the tides might see conscious intent behind the chaotic turbulence of economic and political structures.

Over-estimation of conscious intent and over-estimation of central co-ordination. These are the most common errors made when outsiders attempt to examine the working of “conspiracies”. These were errors that may have been made in my own work on deep states. Expect updates on my previous work shortly.

Friday Night Fragments #34

Tonight’s edition of the Fragments is dedicated to the new “She Guardian” statue that was recently erected in London because HOLY SHIT TAKE A LOOK AT THIS THING TAKE A LOOK AT THIS INSANE FUCKING STATUE

London She Guardian Statue

LOOK AT IT

London She Guardian Statue

LOOK AT IT

London She Guardian Statue

I want one. I want one so badly. I want one and it’s beautiful and fearsome and terrifying and HOLY SHIT THIS THING IS SO FUCKING METAL JUST SO FUCKING METAL HOW THE FUCK DOES THAT THING NOT COME WITH FACE-MELTING GUITAR SOLOS AND PURE FUCKING LIGHTING RAINING FROM THE SKY?

I want one I WANT ONE I WANT ONE

I WANT ONE

I recently seized on the chance to watch the documentary “Hot Girls Wanted”, an inside look at the world of amateur porn. It’s a quick watch, and it’s rather interesting. Take a look if that sounds up your alley.

I don’t give much heeds to accounts that attest that all worldly affairs are controlled by an Illuminati. However, these accounts all generally contain a common strain that I find, if not believable, ridiculously amusing. I speak of the idea that the “Illuminati” — or the elite or the powers that be or whatever you want to call them — place symbols of great importance to them all over famous landmarks and important buildings and other places that hold a certain meaning for them. Laughably, I find this to be the best case for any kind of Illuminati because it’s exactly the sort of thing that I would do if I had that kind of power.

Perhaps that’s just my sense of humor.

Also, the idea of an Illuminati or a series of hidden conspiracies is wildly entertaining, if a bit poor in the dimension of practicality and believability. This is more a product of the various details and other specificities present in such accounts, however. The general underlying principle really isn’t all that ridiculous.

Each and every person likes being around people who are like them, from the youngest to the oldest and the lowest to the highest. Each and every person likes feeling like they are a part of a select group, from the youngest to the oldest and the lowest to the highest. Each and every person likes working with others for a common cause, from the youngest to the oldest and the lowest to the highest.

The idea that similar people of a certain tier might get together — surreptitiously or otherwise — and do things that might advance their interests is hardly an outlandish one. As always, however, the devil is in the details, and even though the general principle is always being played out, any potential manifestation of said principle that may be suggested is highly unlikely to be among that select group of possibilities that have actually played out (and/or are being played out currently).

But of course, I am a bit of a schemer with a penchant for discretion, so I would see those tendencies in everyone else, wouldn’t I?

Having worked my way through some private research on the matter of Prohibition, I am astonished by how jarring the parallels are with our own time. The “drys” were the SJWs of yesteryear (as I have mentioned in a previous Fragments), and they acted in exactly the same way as the feminists and “anti-racists” of our time cavort themselves.

Like the SJWs of today, they mucked everything up, expended all they had on instituting a ridiculous utopian vision, and suffered major egg on their face once everything they worked for fell apart (we’re still hoping on that last one coming about sooner rather than later).

Like the SJWs of today, it shook them to the core how they were ignored and mocked by all those who realized what a joke they were. Like the SJWs of today, they truly believed that they were on the right side of history and that they were truly holy for the faith they placed in their cause.

What set them apart from the SJWs of today was that they did not have the culture. Instead, the culture was against them. Hollywood made films glamorizing drinking. Wealthy East Coast brahmins made a point of offering liquid hospitality to all they could reach. The literature of the time period was awash with drink. The flood of booze could not be stopped.

Prohibition failed because really, really liked alcohol, despite all the desires of the Progressives to rewrite people to be otherwise. It’s hard to rally forces to oppose ideas like “equality” or “fairness” or “human rights”, but it’s very easy to get people to rally against anyone who comes off like the Fun Police.

This is why I believe that #GamerGate has been one of the first true insurrections against the progressive onslaught in recent times, because video games, like drinking, happen to be great fun, and there is a dedicated and reasonably-sized sub-culture of people that really, really enjoy this hobby and are willing to go to war for it.

Those who are against the ideas of the progressives would be wise to fight them not solely on those issues that incite disgust in the “ingroup”, but also on those issues in which the SJWs can be painted as tyrannical and in opposition to fun. Not everyone feels a visceral emotional reaction to various social issues, but everybody (except for left-wing activists and anyone who has a Tumblr) likes fun.

You want to hit them hard? Remind everyone around them of how much they hate fun.

Powertalk in Action

A while ago, I put up the above clip as a demonstration of powertalk in action. However, I feel that I was remiss in not analyzing exactly what about this scene makes it such a good demonstration of this particular form of verbal maneuvering. Today, I remedy that.

There is much to analyze in this scene, but for our purposes here, only the words that are spoken will be examined. There is much to learn about how powertalk in action actually works. I hope you find it illuminating.

Prince Oberyn.

Lord Tywin.

The two players exchange acknowledgement of each others’ presence without giving ground. It’s time to play.

May we have the room?

Tywin wants the following conversation to be private. Oberyn sees that the man is very serious, and it’s going to be best to go along with his request. You see how Tywin is already setting the tone for the resulting exchange.

Game on.

Would you like to sit?

No, thank you.

Some wine?

No, thank you.

Polite pleasantries on the surface, but what is happening is that Oberyn is testing Tywin to see if he will break his stern countenance and submit to the prince’s attempt to display authority over the situation. Doing so would constitute a gesture of submission to the younger man, and make it that much harder for Tywin to enforce his will over the situation and get what he wants. Tywin, being a master statesman, does not go along with this.

I’m sorry about your grandson.

Are you?

I don’t believe that a child is responsible for the sins of his father. Or his grandfather…

On the surface, more pleasantries, but Oberyn barely disguises his thrust. Oberyn despises Tywin, and being the less subtle of the two, he has no problem implying that he thinks Tywin is the one who should have died, and not Tywin’s grandson, the former king. This is another attempt to throw Tywin off of his game and expose some kind of weakness that can be exploited.

…an awful way to die.

Which way is that?

Are you interrogating me, Lord Tywin?

A normal person would have agreed with Oberyn that the king died in an awful way. A normal person would have let the flow of the conversation slip away from him. Tywin is trying to retain control of the conversation, and he also knows that Oberyn is going to be hostile and minimally co-operative. As such, he dispenses with the cooperative assumption of normal conversational implicature and tries to pin down Oberyn and get him to say exactly what he thinks.

Some believe the king choked.

Some believe the sky is blue because we live inside the eye of a blue-eyed giant. The king was poisoned.

“Some people believe this possibility that obviously didn’t happen. This is the last chance for you to retain plausible deniability before we move out of the preliminary proceedings and begin the main part of this conversation.”

“We are not some people. We both know what really happened. We will take this conversation to the next level and talk as men who know what really happened and we will not dive into discussion of things that did not happen.”

This marks a shift in the conversation from feeling out each other’s frames into a discussion of the matters Tywin wishes to discuss.

I hear you studied poisons at the Citadel.

I did. This is why I know.

Tywin is implying to Oberyn that he might be a suspect in the murder of the king. It’s an attempt to rattle him. Killing a king is a great crime, and bad things happen to those found guilty of it. In order not to lose face, Oberyn has to show that he isn’t rattled. It’s easy for him, because he isn’t. This time, it’s Tywin who fails to perturb his opponent.

Your hatred for my family is rather well-known. You arrive at the capital an expert in poisoning. Some days later, my grandson dies of poisoning.

That is suspicious. Why haven’t you thrown me in a dungeon?

Oberyn takes note of the implied threat and calls it out for the bluff that it really is. He knows that if Tywin was really planning on arresting him, he would already be sitting in a jail cell, not hosting orgies with his paramour. Oberyn still doesn’t know what Tywin wants, but at this point he knows that despite Tywin’s fearsome demeanor, there is no intention of hostile action on the part of the old lion.

You spoke with Tyrion in this very brothel on the day you arrived. What did you discuss?

You think we conspired together?

Tyrion (Tywin’s son) is the primary suspect in the murder of the king. Tywin knows that he couldn’t have done it alone. This question could help him get some information that could be useful for the trial, but the real intent here is to assess how much of a threat Oberyn might be. For all Tywin knows, Oberyn might very well be the real killer. If that’s the case, there’s no telling who else might be next to swallow something that might fatally disagree with them. Perhaps Tywin himself is in danger. This next part of the conversation is an attempt to assess how much danger Tywin and the other members of his family are in.

What did you discuss?

The death of my sister.

For which you blame me.

She was raped and murdered by The Mountain. The Mountain follows your orders. Of course I blame you.

You’ll note that this is the first straight answer that either one of these players has given the other in this exchange. They’ve both stuck to their guns in holding frame up to this point, but Oberyn switches tactics in order to 1) remind Tywin of their mutual hostility, 2) attempt to intimidate him, and 3) see if he can get Tywin to admit whether or not Tywin gave the order to have Elia Martell (Oberyn’s sister) brutally murdered. But how many of these will hit the mark?

Well here I stand, unarmed, unguarded. Should I be concerned?

You are unarmed and unguarded because you know me better than that. I am a man of reason. If I cut your throat today I will be drawn and quartered tomorrow.

 “How far are you willing to go?”

“I may be reckless and impulsive and very good at violence, but I don’t want to die.”

Oberyn loses points here. Though his intent was to imply that he hasn’t ruled out killing Tywin at some other time, he ends up admitting that he isn’t willing to die in order to take revenge on Tywin. It’s a tactical error on Oberyn’s part, and now Tywin knows that this is not a situation in which he has anything to fear from the legendary warrior. You will see this reflected in the bold-faced lie that he will tell Oberyn very shortly.

Oberyn could have taken Tywin if it came to violence between the two. Tywin knows this, which is why he displays a certain reserved caution towards the younger, more physically dangerous man. Oberyn, in letting slip that he will not kill Tywin, has just forfeited a major psychological advantage that he had been holding up until that moment. This permanently shifts the balance of power between the two. For the rest of this exchange, Tywin is in control, and Oberyn finds himself fighting from his back foot.

This could have been avoided if Oberyn had ignored the bait and had kept talking about his sister, but his hatred for Tywin drove him to run full force into the trap that the other man had set. Massive points to Tywin here.

Men at war commit all kinds of crimes without their superior’s knowledge.

You deny any involvement in Elia’s murder?

Categorically.

We see immediate effects from Oberyn’s display of weakness. Tywin realizes that he can defect without fear of punishment in this prisoner’s dilemma, and he promptly does so. Oberyn told Tywin what he and Tyrion had discussed previously because he thought that he could then get Tywin to admit that Elia had been murdered on Tywin’s orders. Oberyn offered up truthful information, but Tywin reciprocated with a lie, and Oberyn knows it. This reneges on the offer of fair play that Oberyn had implicitly granted by accepting Tywin’s frame and then speaking truthfully. Oberyn, on hearing the obvious lie, realizes his mistake, but he also knows better than to push the matter.

This is the end of this phase of the conversation. Tywin is gaining massive momentum. All that is left for him to to clean up and extract the concessions he needs.

 I would like to speak with the Mountain.

This is Oberyn’s attempt to recover from his slip-up and reclaim some sense of authority over the situation. Gregor Clegane (aka The Mountain) is on his hit list, and there’s practically nothing that Oberyn wouldn’t give for a chance to kill the man. With good play, Oberyn can still salvage this situation and extract an opportunity to take revenge on the object of his ire. It’s clear that this line of thought is running through his mind.

I’m sure he would enjoy speaking with you.

He might not enjoy it as much as he thinks he would.

“I’m sure The Mountain would be willing to let you try to kill him. You do realize who we’re talking about, right? The guy is an enormous, inhumanly strong, nigh-unkillable human being. He could eat you for breakfast and still be hungry.”

“Tell that giant, freakish, rapey, eight-foot tall cunt that I will fucking end him as slowly and painfully as I can manage before my self-control gives out and I put him in his fucking grave. I could kill him easily and I know it.”

I could arrange for this meeting.

But you want something in return.

Clegane is offered up as a bargaining chip. Oberyn wants to know what is being bargained before he takes it. He still feels the sting of the preceding moment when he charged ahead without thinking. He won’t make that mistake a second time.

There will be a trial for my son, and as custom dictates, three judges will render a verdict. I will preside. Mace Tyrell will serve as the second judge. I would like you to be the third.

Why?

Tywin dangles a prize in front of Oberyn, but it’s not much of a prize. Oberyn isn’t going to snap at such meager bait. But why is Tywin asking him to do this? What is really going on here? Oberyn wants to know.

Not long ago, the Tyrells sided with Renly Baratheon — declared themselves enemies of the throne. Now they are our strongest ally.

So you make the Tyrell girl a queen. Asking me to judge at your son’s trial isn’t quite as tempting.

The backstory here isn’t important. What is important is that Oberyn isn’t going to dance for Tywin just for a few ceremonial honors. He knows Tywin really wants to win him over, and he’s not going to sell himself for such a low price.

I would also invite you to sit on the Small Council to serve as one of the new king’s principal advisers.

Boom. This is a big offer. Very big, and now Oberyn is very curious. Tywon wouldn’t offer this up unless he really needed Oberyn for something…something important. Now the prince knows that something big is going on that he doesn’t know about.

I never realized you had such respect for Dorne, Lord Tywin.

Dorne is the region of the empire from which Oberyn hails. The other kingdoms that compose the realm tend to look down on it for its loose sexual attitudes and (on a relative basis) progressive attitudes towards social issues. Tywin himself has indicated (to Oberyn’s face) a certain distaste for the region’s cultural norms. Thus, painting this offer as a reflection on Tywin’s views toward Dorne is an attempt to draw out exactly why Tywin is so keen on allying himself with Oberyn. As it turns out, this is about winning over Dorne, and not Oberyn in particular, but Oberyn doesn’t know this yet.

We are not seven kingdoms until Dorne returns to the fold. The king is dead. The Greyjoys are in open rebellion. A wildling army marches on the Wall, and in the east, the Targaryen girl has three dragons. Before long she will turn her eyes to Westeros…

Blah, blah, blah, backstory. Basically, the Kingdom is fucked unless all the bickering, feuding families who hold power can come together, stop all their plotting and backstabbing, and deal with the perfect storm of existential threats raging outside (and inside) the borders of Westeros. Tywin is being honest and straight-talking here because:

…only the Dornish managed to resist Aegon Targaryen and his dragons.

This is Tywin’s moment of weakness. This is why he’s spent all this time trying to assert his power over Oberyn. Much as he may dislike the Dornish, they were the only people who were able to hold out the last time the Targaryens decided to fly their dragons into Westeros and take over. This is Tywin at the height of his statesmanship. He knows that he needs an alliance with people he dislikes if he is to even have the faintest chance at preventing the realm from descending into anarchy.

This sentence gives quite a bit of power back to Oberyn, which is why Tywin tried to accrue as much as he could in the previous few minutes. He doesn’t want to lose any more power than he has to here, because he’s the only one with the capability to keep the kingdom together and fend off the threats that would destroy it. If he shows too much weakness and appears too vulnerable, his rivals (such as Oberyn) might try to remove him from his position as regent and kill him. If that happens, all Westeros is likely to be destroyed. For the sake of his own position (and thus, for the sake of the realm), he needs to make this request from a position of strength. He’s been setting this up ever since he walked in the room.

You’re saying you need us. That must be hard for you to admit.

 “That must be hard for you to admit” is unnecessary here, and it exposes Oberyn’s insecurity at not being in control of this exchange. It’s very effective as a personal jab, but it’s a sub-optimal rejoinder by the standards of powertalk. It shows that Oberyn feels his control over the situation slipping away, and now he’s lashing out in an attempt to score a few more points.

It still hits the mark, but the prince of Dorne would have done better for himself had he been a little less quick with his tongue. That said, this moment is still a minor victory for Oberyn. He definitely hit a nerve with Tywin on this one, as Tywin hates to admit any weakness.

We need each other…

 No, they don’t. Tywin needs Oberyn but that need isn’t mutual. This is classic politician-speech. It’s an attempt to save face. I actually can’t tell if Tywin is just trying to reframe the situation or if he’s trying to convince himself here that both men need each other. It’s probably a bit of both.

…You help me serve justice to the king’s assassins and I will help you serve justice to Elia’s.

Is the personal political? Yes and no, but by helping Oberyn get what he wants in the personal realm, Tywin gets what he needs in the realm of the political.

Final verdict? A remarkable level of play by both participants, but with the edge to Tywin for not only his masterful display, but also his success in getting everything he needed out of the interaction for the price of mere promises.

This is one of my favorite scenes from Game Of Thrones because it’s such a superb display of negotiating and politicking between two powerful men who know how the game is played. As such, it is a rich treasure for those who enjoying studying this particular aspect of human interaction.

Wrapping this up, I will point out some principles that are at work throughout the entirety of this interaction. You will also notice that both men do their utmost to avoid answering any question directly. Doing so would do what I warned against in my last Friday Night Fragments: playing a game when you aren’t the one setting the rules. Both men here are seeking to impose their will on the situation and they are no fools. They know the pitfalls to avoid.

Why does Tywin not just come out and say all that he needs to directly? He could, but he would suffer a loss in power and reputation by doing so, as the admission that only Oberyn can help him places Oberyn in a position of power over him. These delicate maneuverings are essential to making sure that the overall balance of power between the two men remains, at worst, neutral. It also has the added side effect of making Oberyn think that he is getting what he wants in a fair trade, while also increasing the prince’s opinion of Tywin and enhancing Tywin’s reputation as a strong, forceful man. Tywin could have gotten what he wanted by sacrificing some political and social capital, but by going about things in this way, he gains in stature. It is by playing games like this that he is able to project strength and head off potential challenges to his power and authority. Were he to be straightforward and honest, his political capital would be slowly chipped away until he was seen as nothing more than an old, toothless lion, and there’s nothing like the perception of weakness to make all those with even a hint of ambition feel bold enough to strike.

And that’s just how the game is played.

Now, I suppose you could argue that this is a work of fiction and that there is absolutely nothing that you can take away from this, but you’d be wrong. Good fiction is not just grounded in real-life truths, but is immersed in it, and scenes such as the above differ from reality only in regard to the most minute of details. There are a multitude of lessons that can be learned from this material and many others like it, and you’re a fool if you think otherwise.

Besides, if you really read all of this, you don’t actually believe there’s nothing to take away. You just think you do.

Friday Night Fragments #33

Having reread The Gervais Principle as foundational material for my last post, something seems to have happened to me; namely, that the concepts have sunk in to a degree far beyond when I read the material for the first time. Everywhere I look I literally see the posturetalk and the babytalk that permeates the sound and the noise that spews from the mouths of those around me. I see it as clear as day and it disgusts me. It actually disgusts me, and those people who are exceptions appear to me as paradisaical havens in an ocean of filth.

Having seen so clearly something that I despise in others, I would be remiss if I did not seek to extirpate any such tendencies from myself. I would say that I’ve done a fairly good job of restricting this blog to either straight talk or powertalk, but from now on, I plan on making a conscious effort to do so.

My brother roped me into seeing the latest Jurassic Park movie with him, and despite myself I rather enjoyed it. I found it refreshing to see a film that dispensed with cliches about corrupt, greedy executives as a crutch to have some justification for why dinosaurs were eating people. Also, there seemed to be a strong undercurrent of tongue-in-cheek “red pill” self-awareness, leading to moments like this:

So which one’s the alpha?

You’re looking at him.

 Put there on purpose or am I just reading into it? Well, that doesn’t really matter now, does it?   Sure, the redheaded love interest manages to go through an entire film of schlepping through jungles and running from dinosaurs without ever bothering to take her heels off, but if you interpret that as a way of highlighting this most absurd of girl power tropes, it becomes strikingly less distracting (as well as exponentially more amusing).

It’s entertainment. It’s meant to be an occasional indulgence. Read into it what you like and interpret it how you like in order to enjoy it the most. If you’re going to be wasting time like that, do yourself a favor, don’t take things to seriously, and get as much out of it as you possibly can.

Ever wondered exactly what it takes to turn a man into a woman? Odds are, you just imagined losing a very special part of you. But have you ever considered exactly what it takes to make a male face look female? Isegoria gives us the answer. It turns out, it takes quite a but of work to turn a male-looking face into a female one, as biological sex is generally reflected in every part of the skull, from the chin to the forehead to all the little protrusions and growths around the eye sockets. It is a process that necessitates procedures such as whittling down bone, sawing off unneeded bits, reworking the entire jaw, and moving the hairline.

Regardless of whatever else anyone may believe on the matter, it’s hard to doubt that someone would have to feel a strong emotional compulsion of some sort in order to make them go through with this ordeal. Whether that’s a positive compulsion (I really want to do this) or a negative compulsion (I will feel very uncomfortable if I don’t do this), it’s not difficult to realize that no one with any idea of what happens during such a surgery would willingly undergo it unless they felt a very strong emotional stirring indeed.

Watch the whole documentary if you feel the inclination. Don’t if you don’t. But watch from about 15:00 – 17:00 or so.

Catch the important parts? People who take orders and trust in the command of a superior are your future soldiers. People who display prudence and caution make for your best spies. People who, when presented with high-pressure situations, look for better options that aren’t immediately obvious, are your future commanders.

If you’re like me and you like to reduce things to underlying dynamics and draw associations with disparate ideas, feel free to draw parallels with The Gervais Principle. It has been the intellectual plaything of the week, after all.

Never stop thinking for yourself, and never play a game if you aren’t the one setting the rules. Hold frame and impose your own order and your own structure on the world.

Or don’t. After all, the people running the show always need cannon fodder.

Apparently the French are advising visitors to the United States to watch their words and be exceedingly careful around American women for fear of unpleasant reprisals. Apparently the French fear that we in the US have a rabid hostility to any form of sexual expressions deemed to be outside the boundaries of propitious conduct.

Putting it in perspective, it goes back to a point I’ve made before: the more attractive women find you, the less you have to fear any sort of repercussions for sexual actions. Still, having that qualification enshrined not just into law, but also into our cultural and moral norms is still an indicator that the climate is being quite a bit more hostile for everyone (or at least, every man) involved in the sexual marketplace. Frankly, it’s hard to deny that this sort of thing is happening when citizens of advanced, civilized countries receive travel warnings that tell them to watch out for it.

The US has always had a bit of a reputation as being prudish and uptight when it comes to sex (at least form the lens of the more sexually open European countries), but to have that stereotype formalized by way of travel warning is a sign that even other developed, progressive countries think we’ve gone too far. If anyone here still doubts that the dominant strains of American culture are fundamentally Puritan, this is your kick in the teeth.

Powertalk

In a previous Friday Night Fragments, I put up a quick exchange I had with Aeoli Pera on the subject of powertalk. It is a matter worth significant attention. But what is Powertalk?

If you’ve read The Gervais Principle, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Good.

Now go read Part Two again. Do it whether you’ve read it before or not. This is not a recommendation. I just read it over again myself and I need you to be on top of your game and have the concepts completely fresh in your mind if you plan on reading this post.

Are you finally ready? Good.

 (Side note: Rao uses the word “sociopath” to mean someone who perceives things as they are and is able to think about them without passing moral judgement. I understand this can be a bit confusing in lieu of the “baggage” that comes with that particular word, but I encourage you to read his remarks on this particular word choice and at least try to understand why he does this.)

 

 Multiple layers of meaning are not what make Powertalk unique. Irony and sarcasm are modes of layered communication available to anybody. As you’ll learn if you read the Transactional Analysis books, Gametalk is all about multiple (usually two) levels of communication. What distinguishes Powertalk is that with every word uttered, the power equation between the two speakers shifts just a little. Sometimes both gain slightly, at the expense of some poor schmuck. Sometimes one yields ground to the other. Powertalk in other words, is a consequential language.

The Gervais Principle II: Posturetalk, Powertalk, Babytalk and Gametalk

Powertalk. A way of speaking in which power dynamics actually shift over the course of the conversation. Phrased like that, I would argue that all talk is powertalk. That said, 1) that is my phrasing, not Rao’s, so it wouldn’t be fair to judge him on that front, 2) there is an intentionality to powertalk not present in “normal” speech, and 3) that would probably say more about me than anything else now, wouldn’t it?

So let’s adjust that definition just slightly. All meaningful talk is powertalk.

Is your skin crawling yet? It should be. Now why should that be?

Simple. Not all meaningful talk is powertalk. Not at all.

Let us go back and focus our attention on an idea that Rao touches on only once for the briefest of moments: straight talk.

Sociopaths and Losers speak rarely to each other at all. One of the functions of the Clueless, recall, is to provide a buffer in what would otherwise be a painfully raw master-slave dynamic in a pure Sociopath-Loser organization. But when they do talk, they actually speak an unadorned language you could call Straight Talk if it were worth naming. It is the ordinary  (if rare) utilitarian language of the sane, with no ulterior motives flying around. The mean-what-you-say-and-say-what-you-mean stuff between two people in a fixed, asymmetric power relationship, who don’t want or need to play real or fake power games. This is the unmarked black triangle edge in the diagram.

Good philosophical discourse is straight talk. Proper intellectual inquiry is straight talk. An academic culture cannot function without straight talk.

Being “based” is straight talk.

The interesting thing about neoreactionary culture (insofar as there is such a thing) is that it’s respect for “being based” constitutes an apotheosis of straight-talk in the purest sense. One does not win acclaim by mincing words and gambling with status, but by being straightforward and authentic.

It’s actually a little unusual when you think about it. Granted, straight talk may seem an intuitive notion to the usual type of person attracted to this sphere, but it isn’t really a normal facet of human interaction in any significant sense. That it has become the dominant form of interaction among the right people is astonishing when you think about it.

Uniqueness aside, the fixture of straight talk among the foundations of neoreactionary culture is one of the core pieces of social technology that makes this entire edifice possible.

The risk here, of course, is that too strong an emphasis on being based leads to a short circuiting of the concept, turning straight talk into game talk and degenerating blunt dialectic into monkey politics and shibboleth-speaking.

Any status mechanism can be short circuited. Once that happens, a Red Queen scenario kicks in and everyone needs to short circuit the mechanism in order to accrue status, at which point people are pursing status for the sake of status instead of earning status commensurate with the intended purpose of the original mechanism. Holiness cycles are one manifestation of the phenomenon, and offer a great example for what happens with this chain of events is allowed to proceed to completion.

Heading these sorts of things off before they come to pass is imperative for any organization with interests beyond status signaling and monkey politics.

If you wish to straight talk to the best of your ability, then be as blunt as you can be without being more than you need to be. Try too hard and it becomes posture talk.

And really, after all we’ve been through, wouldn’t it be just downright disappointing to let that happen?