The Quest for a Quest
"Wrought" versus "ought."
On the most recent Tonic 7 podcast, we discussed an article that has caused a bit of a stir in our circles. In The China Convergence,proposes the theory that the source and vector of our current woes is the rise to power of a managerial elite, the regime of which will rule the East and West in essentially the same homogenized, tyrannical form.
On the podcast, I noted that I have many problems with this theory. Upon rereading it, I find I still have those, and several more besides. But it is a voluminous, detailed, diligent and carefully reasoned work, so it deserves a criticism of the same kind. I am currently working on just such a critique. But in the course of my work, I discovered something I believe is worth a separate mention.
Many of the problems I have with “Convergence” stem from how I am unchangeably wrought. By this, I don’t mean my measurable and temporal properties (height, colorings, etc, which can change anyway), but the ephemeral qualities and orientation of my immortal soul. Other problems have to do with my purpose, meaning how I can best use my unchanging qualities in service of the good.
“Wrought” and “ought” are both discoverable, but not by the same means or for the same ends. And like all else in observable spacetime, they are ordered by priority. Before we discern our purpose, we must first determine how we are made. Putting ought and wrought in the wrong order has been the cause of much blindness, error and evil in the world. And yet, it happens all the time.
As usual, fractal iterations of this ultimate truth can be spotted all over the material. For instance, careful study of a tool we find lying on the ground will give us clues to its proper use, at which point we apply our jumbo brains to the problem of using it. Meanwhile a careless or misguided study will lead us into an endless feedback loop of error. It isn’t just a matter of “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” It’s that you might not even have a hammer, but a completely different kind of tool you mistake for one.
Again, such axioms and metaphors are often confused for the product of our creativity, rather than reflecting a higher order of reality. Plato’s shadows misinterpreted as the forms, essentially. I’ve come to believe this is the fundamental meta-error of our existence — an error about the calculation of error itself, misleading us to think in terms of causes and effects that are singular and linear instead of fractal. We come to think of a story as “only a metaphor” for a “true” phenomenon instead of what it is: two true stories that seem to align because they are iterations within the same fractal lineage.
And because errors are fractal too, this primary misapprehension leads to a bunch of other ones that look similar in shape. The most important of these are errors about the soul. When we mistake this concept for a metaphor (or worse, a “fairy tale”), it becomes impossible to even understand it let alone tend to it. In this case, we are talking about the fundamental Self that exists outside of measurable spacetime. Because of this non-Euclidean position, this Self is both immortal and unchangeable. And because it is the irreducible source of our observations, we definitionally cannot observe it. Not directly, at least. And yet, without at least some method of even roughly gauging it, we can’t possibly fulfill our purpose in the world.
So first comes the problem of how I am eternally and unchangeably wrought. This isn’t as easily discernable as it might seem. In fact, countless men and women of all ages have uttered some variation of the phrase, “We’re different people, now.” In extremis, some of them will claim that “We’re different people every year/day/hour/second/trillisecond.” They’re wrong about that, but not perfectly wrong. What they’re trying to explain is the dynamic aspects of organic being, perhaps best analogized by the river that constantly flows around the rock, and therefore subtly shapes it over time.
So, it’s not wrong, when viewed from a particular perspective. It can even be a useful way to describe certain patterns and effects. But the changeless element of Soul exists outside of that metaphor. It is neither river nor rock, nor the blind forces that move and shape them. It is more akin to a statue that was intentionally chiseled by an Artist, who most of us call God.
As a consequence of our parallel existence as temporal observers and agents, it is difficult — and perhaps even impossible — for us to examine our own custom-wrought statues firsthand. Instead we must pick up clues from others around us, and from careful and honest examinations of our past experiences. If we do that well and dutifully enough, we’ll eventually be able to visualize certain features of our unchanging soul statues, extant in every measurable frame of existence and shape of river-rock.
For example, I was wrought to identify and describe monsters. And while other superficial features and conditions of my life have changed along the way, I am still that same boy crouched in the pew, sketching fiendish mutants and demons during the priest’s sermon. Or rather, the boy and I are the same statue, irrelevant of our positions in spacetime. In that sense, there is no “we” or “our.” There is only the single “I”, and how I am eternally made.
But wrought-ness isn’t ought-ness. For one thing, purpose is very much implanted in and inseparable from spacetime. And in addition to placing purpose out of order, we can also pursue a mistaken purpose. We can even do so with somewhat decent knowledge about the statue’s construction. For example, after understanding that I was made to see and accurately describe monsters, I could reach the stunningly boneheaded conclusion that I therefore ought to build them.
When we make such mistakes, we are punished for them. When such punishment occurs isn’t for us to know. Some — or even most — of it may occur at or near the location and moment of the error, as evidenced in the typical collisions of Euclidean n-space. Stove hot. Me touch stove. Ouch. Other punishments await us at a distance, however, or even beyond the veil of time itself. I suspect this is particularly the case when our mistakes serve to vandalize the statues of ourselves or others. Not damage them, mind you; none of us is powerful enough to alter what God has wrought. We can graffiti them up pretty handily, however, and serve the devil’s will as a consequence.
But as we know, mistakes can also be educational. We are equipped to learn from them, if not to wipe off the graffiti (or at least, not without help). This is true even if we’ve broadly misread our design and/or chose the wrong purpose, and even if we’ve done so for a very long time. That just makes the learning curve steeper, is all. Old dog, new tricks.
There are of course tools to assist us in the learning process. The application of reason is usually the first tool to hand, but not necessarily the most effective one. In fact, the application of so-called “pure reason” to the problem of purpose can often serve to magnify the error. I think insight is more generally effective, but much more difficult to obtain and properly wield. To gain insight into our best purpose, we need to look past the superficial causes-and-effects. Those are also often placed out of order, anyway, or are even illusions intentionally crafted to mislead us.
One clue to knowing that you’ve gained a useful insight is that it’s extraordinarily painful. Not in the hot-stove-ouch way, but a much more scalding burn, in a much deeper place. But, as they say in all those right-wing-domestic-terrorist-breeding grounds the rest of us call gyms: “No pain, no gain.”
Another way to determine you’ve gained a useful insight is that they are normally quite simple. And unlike “knowledge” — which can be incredibly detailed and ornate — a true insight often makes you want to comically slap your forehead and say, “Durrrrr! What a dope I am!” It is finally noticing something obvious that’s been right in front of your face, which you should have noticed all along but were too busy working/ playing/ fucking/ sleeping/ eating and generally distracting yourself to look for.
In my case, the insight I’ve gained into my best purpose is appropriately simple (and embarrassingly obvious, in retrospect).
My purpose — the quest to which I must devote a considerable portion of my earthly life attending to — is to fight monsters. And in fact, not only to fight them directly, but to explain to others how best to fight them. To point out all the weak hinges and chinks in their armor, demonstrate the best methods of outwitting their brittle minds and evading their fangs and claws. That is why God wrought me as I am. Durrr…
That said, I am not a perfect monster-fighter. I have weaknesses as well as strengths, and must strive to keep all of my physical, intellectual and spiritual weapons well honed and oiled. And though life contains many earthly distractions, not everything is distraction. I need to work, play, eat and all the rest of it, and to build and nourish my connections to the world and to others.
About those others: I’ve realized lately that not only must I teach and lead in this monster-fighting biz, but also learn and serve. I cannot possibly slay the monsters we face on my own. Even Hercules needed help to defeat the Hydra, and I ain’t no Herc.
By the way, for my money the Lernaean Hydra is the most apt description of the monster’s current form: an evil protean fractal that grows and mutates as we try to fight it. The outermost edges of of this monster may look like many things to us, including the “managerial class” of Lyons’s essay. The snakeheads have looked like other forms in the past, and will look like other forms in the days to come. But the central problem has remained the same. By focusing our efforts on the obvious and superficial parts of its anatomy, we accidentally lend it strength. We waste time lopping off the heads of middlemen and supervisors, which by their very nature easily replenish and multiply.
The author gets the math of this cancerous growth of immortal bureacracies correct, but misses the root cause, and the real rulers. They may ape the language of their middlemen and go-betweens at times, if only tangentially and temporarily. But those managers do not — and definitionally cannot — rule. The key danger in confusing the managers for rulers is that the shape will shift again, and those who saw manager-kings will be caught flatfooted when it suddenly looks like a mystical religious cult, or a zombie apocalypse, or SkyNet. In fact, in my opinion, this shift in form will happen quite soon, and we’d best be ready for it.
Neither is the true ruler an abstraction or “emergent system,” where distributed goals and consequences are automatized (e.g. Rule by Rule, not by Ruler). There is a real ruling class behind all the masks, perhaps best illustrated by Hunter Biden. Hunter doesn’t know shit about management, utilitarianism, New Atheism, Effective Altruism or all the rest of the Enemy’s plastic duckspeak. What Hunter is is a walking, talking, lying, theiving, coke-sniffing, crack-smoking, whore-fucking lesson in evil Power with a capital P.
But I’ll get to all of that.
As I said, the author of “The China Convergence” was detailed and precise, and I owe him the same. That’s because we — meaning Lyons, myself, the people reading this, and basically everyone else in our dissident circles — are on the same side in this fight. So, if and when we quarrel, it’s not as enemies, but as rebel allies in the war tent. We’re not only debating strategies there, but the Enemy’s size and composition, the true positions of their forces, the locations of their potential traps. We hunt for the most profitable battlefields, too, of which language development is critically important terrain. After all, we can’t fight the Enemy if we can’t even form mutually understandable language with which to describe it.
Sometimes we disagree about these definitions and tactics. And unlike those we fight, we do not embrace servile agreement and “Yes Men” thinking, but its valuable opposite. We fight as freemen, and so when we see what seems like an error in judgement we are free to call it out. And while I found much of value in “Convergence,” I also see what appears to be a major mistake, and one which could lead us all into a potentially fatal trap.
But again, that’s for another time. For now, I will proceed in attending to my God-designed and Self-discovered purpose, as best as I possibly can.
(But preferably after lunch).
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