The Great Dichotomy: Passionate Power

Random musings.

Money to get power, and power to guard the money.”
~Medici family motto

Dichotomies are interesting. Many are none other than existential paradoxes: mind and body, thought and matter, possibility and necessity, spiritual and physical,  and the list goes on. Kierkegaard, as well as Nietzsche and other agents of enlightenment, was a literary guru when it came to expounding upon how to live with these irreconcilable realities. Over the years I’ve learned to cope with the resulting blindness of these realities, the otiose character of life and the recondite disunion of body and soul. I’ve compromised with myself and learned to live with one eye pointed inward and the other pointed outward so as to balance introspection and aspiration.

In recent years I’ve faced a dilemma of deciding what to do with my life and career. It’s not like I didn’t see this crisis coming, but I guess I didn’t realize how many times I would be wrestling with my conclusions and convictions. Despite the temporary setbacks and failures mottling my youth, I’ve orchestrated my education beautifully over the years, exploiting a multitude of disciplines of thought and growing ever cognizant of how achievement is actualized. I’ve gone to great pains to realize the context of my condition and the contingencies of my aspirations.

Out of my experience grew two concentrations of study, economics and philosophy, each representing the broader dichotomies encompassing life. One satisfies my intuitions about what I perceive other people to value, the other regards what I value in my heart. I’ve tried to reconcile these over the years and explain why this dichotomy exists, whether a balance can be achieved, or what direction I should favor. For a long time I decided to refuse to sell out. But this clashed with the omnious system that I would face upon entering the workforce: success seemed tantamount to abiding to the myriad of expectations laid out by others.  As I have no trust fund to lean on for support, no assets to buy my way into fortune (compounding investment: you must have money if you wish to accumulate more money), I faced the reality that no upper echelon would endorse my musings, my art, my thoughts, unless I belonged to them, to their network or, by chance, satisfied their criterion of worth.

The citizen of the world in me refused to conform to the ‘system’, to the authority that dictates standardized achievement and propagates worldly values. The autonomy within me bucked as I studied philosophy and developed the tools and methods for critical inquiry, tools I used to ridicule the backward nature I learned to see in the world. The pragmatic element of my spirit recognized the utility of conformity and uptook various preoccupations that would fashion my mind according to them, such as the study of economics and finance.

But I ask myself: what does it take to be successful? I always like referring to the context in question. I’m American. I live in a ‘democratic’ country where the few rule the many. The few in this case are not the parasitic politicians (although in many cases, when it’s convenient, they are one in the same). The politicians are figureheads, merely the arm or scepter of power, not the head of governance. The true source of governance and power resides in the wealthy, the capitalists, the business owners, the stock holders. These are the greats that arbitrate the economic and political atmosphere. They embody the will to power. They pass the laws, set the wages, orchestrate the commerce, conduct the symphonious marketplace we’re lead to believe is free and open. The current sentiment is that if governance is left to the people, we’ll be in a real mess. The populous is simply a bewildered herd, uneducated and incapable of self-rule. (The Wagner Act of 1935 was the last real effort of the masses to mobilize. Since then these efforts have been squashed. Unions are ‘evil’ and communist.) This is why we live in a ‘democratic republic’ where we elect a small group of ‘leaders’ to instruct the masses on which policies they should live by.

To be successful you must be a sycophant. More specifically, you must possess utility for those in power. If you cannot help these people achieve more power, you are worthless and will amount to nothing more than a cog, expendable and interchangeable. But the wealthy will not extend a job or opportunity to just anyone with ample capacity and a strong will. No. They must be familiar with you. You must possess some wealth, influence, charisma, intelligence, talent or power that they can leverage for their own gain. Posterity is as empty as truth. Rationality is an instrument of the powerful: they dictate the rules of the game, the vernacular, the premises and logical structure of your success.

“All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” (Nietzsche)

Rationality is a function of motives, of intention. Pin-point desires and motivations and you can construct a cathedral of reason to leverage against those in power to mutually achieve independently contrived ends.

The questions that have wracked my mind most over the years: Do I follow my heart or my mind? Do I follow my passions or my prudence? What it’s come down to is that, given the current state of affairs, given my context as a young American, passions are prized only in youth, as is freedom. With the coming of age what is most prized is security, with the passions left to fantasy much like the irrealism of dreams are left to enamoring vagaries. We discard our passions and convictions, our fantastical visions of grandeur for a better world, in favor of a ‘realism’ scented with a dark cynicism that dispels illusion, that acquiesces under the ‘system’ that we obey out of sheer necessity grown from our will to survive. What has been trampled is our will to power, but it is never too late to revive this urge.

The artists, when they are not lining the capitalists pockets with profits, are simply muses in the most passive sense of the term. These artists are no longer concerned with inspiring as much as they are fixed on entertaining, or ‘amusing’, for their agenda is the same as the capitalists: money. They render the audience as docile and facile as possible, getting them in a blurred frenzy, caught up in emotion, totally distracted from the realities that oppress their sad existence. The poorest, the most impoverished left with only their intangible dreams, love these entertainers the most. Since they cannot live through possessions and materialism they escape through fantasy, artificial emotions induced through hollow emotives.

I’ve decided I want to sell out, for a time. I want to master the system so I can one day create the system. Considering my background, I’ve played my cards right up until now: the best university, the best internships, solid degrees, great grades. What is necessary now is to capitalize on these achievements instead of forfeiting them for the preponderances of my heart, the longings of my spirit, the existential conundrums I unravel in my reflections.

What I need to do is exploit the source of power for my ends: finance. I need to get into the industry where all the wealthy have a mutual stake. Wealth is the common denominator of power. Investment banking, wealth advising, asset management.

I need to toss these ephemeral thoughts about passion, about right and wrong, about selfless creation, to the garbage. They are fruitless. If I want to succeed, I must capitalize on my strengths: people skills, smooth talking, will-power, vision, charm, intelligence, good nature, pleasant appearance. I can be obedient. My rebellious nature was resistant to obey arbitrary authority, and my attitude throughout school and to my superiors proves this. But this needs to be corrected if I am to succeed and dominate. I must fawn these superiors in order to advance. There are many who wish to succeed, but only those who stroke the ego’s of those holding the keys to power will allow be to ascend to their true potential. I look around me and I see so much talent. Young automatons do everything right, except they haven’t a clue that doing everything right has a ceiling. You must not only serve the interest of your superiors, you must also create value for them, you must learn to hijack and supplant their vision with yours in order to aid them in their accumulation and concentration of capital. In this way achievement is guaranteed.

Morality does not exist. There are no facts, only interpretations. You cannot have a universal moral conscience as a businessman, as a ruler of wealth: only a fabricated justification that accepts the inequality of man as a rule. Nietzsche said, “The reasons for which ‘this’ world has been characterized as ‘apparent’ are the very reasons which indicate its reality; any other kind of reality is absolutely indemonstrable.” Those in power dictate these reasons. Their are the moral clergymen.

It’s interesting to consider the influence of media control. The media is the mouthpiece of the powerful. As Chomsky said in his book Media Control, “Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

Who rules the world? The powerful, the elite. These are the American ruling class. We elect proffered politicians which have been paid for by these elite with the single agenda of taming the bewildered herd, of keeping the masses complacently compliant.

Slavery was replaced by share cropping, which has been replaced by credit and loans: all of these forms of debt rob the citizens of equality, life and liberty, and it’s legal. Bankruptcy laws. Capital gains taxes. Trickle down economics. Sub-prime mortgage lending. Failed education reforms: No child left behind. The war on drugs. The rise in pharmaceutical psycho-therapeutics. Currency manipulation: Coinage Act of 1972. Foreign wars and fear mongering, communism, creating enemies like Russian and terrorists as a means of keeping the populous paralyzed and fearful, of keeping their attention turned outward instead of inward. All creating fear. All manufactured to suit the ends of the elite. All propaganda.

Truth and lies are one in the same. They condemn or praise according to which subjective end you are most vested.

 

Excellent Living

The topic of discussion last night was whether or not you have volitional control to permanently change your mind. More exactly, can you simply choose to be happy?

The debate raced through a whole load of topics of all sorts of different natures. I don’t like to dichotomize people or ideas, but the debate shifted between two opposing perspectives that can be boiled down to optimists and cynics; or, in other words, idealists and skeptics. One position was that you could see the world however you’d like, choosing and creating the perspectives that best suit your aims or desires. The other was the cynic who held a fairly deterministic, mechanical worldview where being realistic about what is is tantamount to choosing a wholly favorable perspective.

The optimists position was a world view governed by faith and creativity and independent of the influence of unfavorable or negative externalities.  The corollary of this view is an under-appreciation of all the details comprising life, a failure to account for relevant information, which causes a certain naivety and willful ignorance. In this view the hero is the ego. The ego shapes the world we see. They believe that it influences the perceptions and therefore by changing what the ego wants, one can change perception and therefore knowledge. This renders knowledge as relative to each subject. What is unfavorable is simply the result of a flawed perception rather than anything inherently unfavorable existing in a thing or circumstance or effect. There is no essence. Bad and good change according to what ends you hold highest. The optimist personality is creative.

The cynic position views the world as an absurd place with no inherent meaning and obvious goodness. In this world every perspective counts, however favorable and unfavorable, and a person’s duty is to account for all those details if he wants to remain objective. The corollary of this view is an over emphasis on externalities, and an under emphasis on the individual’s perception and attitude to shape and determine certain externalities. The result is a certain nihilism and helplessness. In this view there is no hero. The ego counts for next to nothing. What is important are the facts which the external world often hands us through direct experimentation or by receiving knowledge through other people via dialogue where we inherit knowledge as it is passed on from one person to the next. On a certain level, the cynic assumes objective perception is attainable. This causes him to hold fast to knowledge as atomistic and almost irreducible. Relativity is simply ignorance. The cynic personality is analytic.

For sport I adopted the optimistic position, arguing that our world is dictated by our perceptions, and that if we change out perceptions, the world as we see it literally changes. Of course, I do not believe simply believing we will fly changes the limiting facts of physics, but it allows us to take certain measures and partake in certain activities where flying becomes a possibility, such as devising flight technology. What changed was how we thought about our limitations, not the limitations themselves.

What is essential to understand is that we are not simply reflective creatures. We are reflexive creatures. As both an observer and a participant, how we choose to participate changes what we will observe.

The conversation essentially revolved around how one can change their perceptions. We talked about the role of thought, habits, and actions, and, given the plasticity of the brain, the role in changing mental states, mind and perceptions. A person cannot literally change his entire brain after years of habituated thoughts and actions. Especially after establishing a life, or world around you, that attributes and reacts to you according to those thoughts, seeing you as unchangeable rather than evolving. No, the mind changes all the time, in the present. Changing a single thought will not change the mind. Think “How you spend your time defines who you are.” It literally dictates who you are, what you are. If you spend all day doing math, you will cultivate a brain that is oriented for math, you will think math, act on behalf of these math thoughts, and people will (although not always) contextualize you according to your propensity for math.

Thinking thoughts over and over again changes the mind. It reinforces neural pathways, reorients entire neural networks. Once a thought settles in the mind it has permanence, but its influence does not. To increase the influence of thoughts requires their repetition. We are creatures of habit. In this way a conscious thought becomes ingrained in the mind, internalized into the subconscious, so that it becomes apart of our character and influences us even when it is not consciously acknowledged.

But can you simply will yourself to be happy? Not in a single moment, just like you can’t will yourself to lift 400lbs on a whim. It requires that you act and live the thought or activity you desire to emulate on a frequent basis. You must anchor it through repetition, through practice.  But practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. You must practice excellence, repeat excellence, every time. There is no good days and bad days. Every day you must desire and hit the mark dead on. The best only have the habit of doing the best day in and day out.

You are a product of your environment, no doubt. You have years of habits that are most likely less than excellent. Overcoming them requires overwriting them. It requires forgetting everything you knew about the past and adopting and doing what you best desire right now. You cannot stand within and move without. You must step out of the past and any conceptions and experiences that do not support your current aim. You must redefine yourself every moment with perfect thought and action, consistently, day in and day out, until you become your aim.

To do this you must be your aim and goal from the start, and nothing less than your aim and goal. You will not become the best by trying or doing. Only by being. In this way you do not do in order to have in order to be. No. You must be in order to do in order to have.

 

More later.

Decide to be.

Revolt! You are free to be! Now dream and pursue freedom with passion! Escape societies noisy clamour, throw off the chains that drag you downward. Create yourself! There is no path where you are meant to go! Blaze anew, for there are no limits to the wanderlust of dreams! Gather your gaze and seek yourself out! Pour out the paltry perceptions of pain and problem, for you are beyond the grasp of trouble!

Decide and create! There is no need for the reassurance of petty peddlers. You needn’t ask the world a thing. Demand it from yourself, and the world will respond in bounty! Brave the unknown, lay siege to the remote and mysterious- for possibility awaits! And where possibility abounds, so does life!