META-NOMAD

Exiting Modernity – 5 – Defeatist: If You Have to Eat Shit, Best Not to Nibble

Parts 1234

I noted previously – though not as clearly – that such phrases as ‘the system’ or ‘the man’ are unhelpful. As fun as it is to “Stick it to the man!”, we know that in reality it’s an act of transparent narcissism. This will of course offend those who have made it their life’s work to ‘stick it to the man’, but the very fact there are a multitude of groups (not just individuals) who have spent quite literally every waking hour protesting, acting-up and generally causing a nuisance for the system, shows that their brand/type of activity is nothing for the system, it doesn’t even cause the system to shrug as it blows them away like pesky midges.

There are those who will say that I am being defeatist, more than likely those who have let themselves become swept up in a shriek of the herd, stood there wearing leather jackets and Doc Martins, calling me a sell-out. Let me explain. It is quite evident that protesting does nothing. The only thing it does is make others annoyed at your cause. You’re in their way, they certainly dislike their job, but they dislike being annoyed on the way to it even more – their job isn’t optional, your incessant virtue-signalling is. What does work is not preaching, but teaching. (Unfortunately we lack many good teachers).

Anyway, regarding the label of ‘defeatist’:

If you have to eat shit, best not to nibble. Bite, chew, swallow, repeat. It goes quicker.”

I am not telling you to eat the system’s shit willingly, only that the quicker you eat its shit now, the less you’ll have to eat later, potentially you’ll get into a situation where you no longer have to eat any shit at all. Enough of these coprophilic metaphors. The point is, unless you truly wish to become a homeless vagabond (absolutely nothing wrong with that, seriously.) you are going to have compromise, and no amount of idealist pamphleteering is going to change the situation at present.

One of the primary traits of the system is that it is a positive feedback loop where almost anything is concerned. In fact, I’d even argue that it is a multiplicity of separate positive-feedback loops. What I mean by this is that if X is working for the system, the system tends (almost always does) to amplify X until it no longer can, the feedback is wherein the system almost amplifies the compounded X – think, cumulative interest. How does this apply to reality, or your everyday life, let’s have a look-

Remember that band you liked as a kid? Let’s say for the sake of this piece the band was called Hellthread Deluxe, or HD for short. HD were sort of folk-metal, singing about high school nostalgia, rebellion against the system by way of destruction and cooking recipes involving peaches. All of a sudden HD got really big, this annoyed you because you based your entire identity around HD and now your interests seem vacant to you, anyway. The system – or parts of the system – notice how popular HD are becoming and unconsciously attach the feedback process to the commodity-entity that is HD. It begins to get infected.

All of a sudden there are HD cookbooks everywhere. All of a sudden there’s folk-metal bands everywhere, but of course, these were 2 of the physical things HD promoted, surely they can’t capture the feeling of HD and sell it? All of a sudden there are TV stars, radio hosts and popular names who are becoming more and more rebellious and destructive; the world flips and that authentic feeling you once got from HD records fades into a miserable, obnoxious static. “They don’t get it though, not like I do!” you say to yourself. You’d be correct in this judgement, but you can’t complain without seeming like a gate-keeper.

A few years pass and HD shirts are so commonplace that you’ve all but erased them from memory. You begin to latch onto obscurer interests in a hope that a certain amount of artistic and creative ambiguity will keep those interests safe from the grasp of the system, but it never works. If the system can, it will.

We’re seeing this most recently with the rebirth of the ‘Simple Living’ movement, which in the late 80’s and 90’s was called ‘Voluntary Simplicity’. It’s a movement I’m fairly fond of, but much like our folky friends HD, it’s going through the system as we speak. But succinctly, Simple Living is…living simply. Not minimalism or asceticism, a medium between the two both emotionally and physically, an understanding that we can have comfort and also avoid many of the pitfalls of consumption. Of course the system sees that Simple Living has the potential to cause disruption to its way of being – economic/profit disruption – and sets to work subsuming Simple Living into its framework. “GET YA SIMPLE LIVING BOOKS! You think you’re living simply now, wait until you purchase our simple living kit, just £399 today!” The system finds some way to tell you and make you believe that you’re not ‘doing’ simple living correctly, or as the other simple live-rs are. It preys on your anxiety in relation to status and popularity, not only does it think you’re missing out on something, but it makes you believe you’re missing out on something it just told you the existence of!

“Have you heard of X?”

“No I have n-”

“OMG! Everyone has X, how come you don’t have X!”

 

Ted Kaczynski’s The System’s Neatest Trick explains this process more succinctly than I ever could:

  1. For the sake of its own efficiency and security, the System needs to bring about deep and radical social changes to match the changed conditions resulting from technological progress.

  2. The frustration of life under the circumstances imposed by the System leads to rebellious impulses.

  3. Rebellious impulses are co-opted by the System in the service of the social changes it requires; activists “rebel” against the old and outmoded values that are no longer of use to the System and in favor of the new values that the System needs us to accept.

  4. In this way rebellious impulses, which otherwise might have been dangerous to the System, are given an outlet that is not only harmless to the System, but useful to it.

  5. Much of the public resentment resulting from the imposition of social changes is drawn away from the System and its institutions and is directed instead at the radicals who spearhead the social changes.

Back to the beginning of this piece, for those who would call me defeatist in my acceptance of eating the system’s shit, do you see now that no amount of hand-waving and alternative living can meet with the great cybernetic God that is ‘the system’. So for those of you who call others sell-outs, or who belittle others who have utilized the system to promote their work, I say you are blind and just as guilty. And yet there is little to be guilty about. Unless one is gratuitously reliant on the system for their identity and survival, then one cannot be blamed for dipping their toes in the system’s murky water. Utilizing the system is simply a material act, and the point of this series is to cultivate a mindset away from material, towards thought about the acts themselves. What’s outside of the system is your thoughts, and ones own ingenuity can emancipate them emotionally from a lot of unnecessary toil. To paraphrase John Michael Greer, why would I waste my finite energy on worrying about that which I cannot change (the system), when I could be using it on that which I 100% can change…myself!

Exiting the system in an instant is extremely dangerous. And guess what, the system doesn’t care if you do or don’t. It doesn’t think about you, it only notices your productive and consumptive inputs and outputs, so why not use the system to as much of your own advantage as possible? As long as it doesn’t cause another’s life to become miserable, I say drain the system of its energy, it would do – and does – the same to you in a machinic-heartbeat. And so, do not drop-out in any romantic fashion, often ruining your life in the process, but plan, wait and find ways to work within the system until you find a chance of exit. In the meantime, cultivate a mindset which the system loathes, one which this system cannot fathom, a mindset which enchants the world!

The system takes you – often quite literally – as a number. This is something you will have to put up with, but as such, you are also someone the system will have to put up with. I am most definitely not stating any form of activism here, that word is cursed. Nor am I for rebellion, protesting, marches, vandalism or manifesto-making – if you’re doing these after 15 you need to grow up and actually do something, not just act as if you are. So what can you do then? Well, back to being a number. Everything in the system is ordered, numerical or quantifiable. A loaf of bread = X, there’s 3 Y in Z, a car does X amount of miles, this straight road is X miles long etc. The system thrives on that which it can control in some quantifiable way. This is exactly why it hates humans so much, they’re – as children at least – free and spontaneous, and it’s very difficult to control something which is unpredictable. I call this form of spontaneity or freedom, ‘enchantment’. What the system wishes to do is to dis-enchant your world, to make you dis-believe all the quirky things you used to, make you believe it’s way of doing things is in fact the only way. Of course it isn’t.

Practice: You are allowed to do as you please. Even the most subtle act of rebellion can cause ruptures. There are acts which seem as if they wouldn’t change a thing, but in their subtly they teach people that they can in fact…just do that if they want to. What am I talking of here? Well, as a semi-eccentric theorist (Read-by-normies: Nutjob, oddball, weirdo) I’m fairly used to trying our peculiar things – usually body experiments relating to diet and breathing. Ever have someone walk in on you meditating in your undies, it certainly shows them that there are indeed people who do these things, ever had someone question why you drink honey and boiling water at night (I like it), same goes for any kind of strange tea or beverage, food or pastime. Your practice to sincerely admit to someone something you do that you consider peculiar. Enjoy reading Norse Mythology, let ’em know. Enjoy watching those 14 hour train journey videos, explain to your colleagues why. You believe in fairies…for real, let ’em know. The point of this exercise is to instill in yourself the idea that:

1. You’re in control. 

2. You can just do stuff, if you want to.

3. To teach others that the world isn’t as stagnant as it seems.

4. To help others break out from the think layer of repressive gunk covering their brains and lives.

There’s always something to be said for holding your corner. Even if no one listening agreed, even if they all thought you were odd, it was worth it. You found that they’re either not the people for you or aren’t confident enough to come out of their shell. You also might have found a quiet supporter who didn’t want to speak up, but felt happier that you did. There is a lot to be said for admitting your supposedly weird outlooks publicly, if not only because it might have made it clear to someone listening that they are not alone, even though, with all their heart, they believed they were.

 

Exiting Modernity – 4 – Neo-Asceticism

If when you walk into a supermarket you don’t have a deep feeling of revulsion, terror and absurdity, I have news for you, you’re very much still within the system. In the same way there’s nothing smart about smartphones, there’s nothing super about supermarkets. The word itself implies that it’s a market which is super, in reality of course this is a complete lie. Many of you may have been to an actual market, you get multiple options of the same product usually from people who make the product, you can learn about what it is you’re going to consume. Whereas in a supermarket you’re basically entering a racket. If you don’t buy their products, from their chosen selection you’re shit out of luck. Eat this, or die. That might seem a tad reactionary to those who’ve yet to think about the way the world works for more than a second, but ask yourself, if tomorrow the supermarkets didn’t have food, where would you get it from? There’s two issues here, one on relating to one’s reliance on industry and the other relating to one’s attachment to brands and desires. I wont be extrapolating on the first issue here, the second has been expanded upon in post one, but here I shall add a little more theory and a lot more practice.

The practice I’m about to speak of will seem somewhat extreme, but once you begin it becomes cathartic and you shed the baggage of modernity quite quickly. It’s an idea I’ve roughly hashed out in my mind, written of in one post here, and shall finally write of in some length now. The idea is called Neo-Asceticism. I more often than not detest the ‘neo’ label on almost everything it has attached itself to: Neo-Dada, Neo-Luddite etc. Usually it’s a way of stating that you are something (Dadaist, Luddite) but wish to make it a new, usually because you wish to make some money or become popular. The prefix neo- should, as such, always be of suspicion. However, I must expand upon Neo-Asceticism to justify my claim here.

“Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their practices or continue to be part of their society, but typically adopt a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, and time spent fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters.” (Wikipedia)

We’ve heard of these ascetics, monks living in the mountains surviving off donations of food and meditating for days on end. That isn’t what I’m getting here. See, if one is to read that Wikipedia article you notice that the large majority of Asceticism took place prior to the 18th century, in a world where sensual and material pleasures had not reached anywhere near the normalcy they have within our current society. Ascetics it seems were commonplace in ancient times, it was understood that there were those who took it upon themselves to exit as thoroughly as possible. What is of importance here is what they were exiting from. Historically ascetics were not leaving anything close to the absolute hellscape we inhabit now (there are exceptions of course, Gandhi, for instance). They were reacting to a life that most people nowadays would consider pretty bare-bones, so the Ascetic’s task was of course spiritual.

So where the Neo- of Neo-Asceticism takes its stand is in the combination of Asceticism and contemporary modes of normalcy. Neo-Ascetics understand that to want less within current times is to covertly state that one wishes to exit the system. For the religion of the system’s entire is Progress, all believe that Progress is good and more Progress is good, and so to state, as the Neo-Ascetic does, that one should question their desires, want for less, consume less and perform a daily critique of production and consumption is to question the great God Progress. In this manner Neo-Ascetics understand the arrow of techno-cultural progression is forever aimed towards more and more progress, and so the Neo-Ascetics task is not an active one in the traditional sense, but an action brought about by contrarian passivity. We cannot physically exit the system – individually – by following the arrow of Progress, nor can we exit by performing some archaic notion of revolution, nostalgically looking back towards some primitive time. What the Neo-Ascetic does is become mindful, especially in relation to habits of desire.

The Neo-Ascetic understands the predicament they are in and does not allow themselves to become frustrated at their situation, but merely stares into the heart of need and sweats of its false desires like a short lived fever. When the Neo-Ascetic walks into a supermarket they do not treat it as the average Joe does, as a form of therapy, a communal ground of interest and intrigue, a place that one wants to be in, no. The Neo-Ascetic perceives the supermarket (and all mass shopping) for what it is, one’s inability to be bored and alone converted into purchase. Needs are not bought out of boredom, desires are. The Neo-Ascetic prepares for the casino-esque mental barrage emanated by the supermarket and stares internally, not allowing themselves to succumb to the pull of – seemingly – random urges.

You may believe that the pursuit of the Neo-Ascetic is overblown, that I am silly for making a simply shopping trip seem like a spiritual hurdle. Well more fool you for disallowing enchantment into your life. Everything is related to one’s path in life, and how you deal with the most simply dilemmas is how you shall deal with the big ones; how you do one thing is how you do all things. As such it is the task of the Neo-Ascetic to both be aware of his habits with regard to consumption, but to also be mindful of the ways in which he is pulled to and fro by the dynamics of consumption itself. To ask oneself why they thought for a second they needed that X, Y or Z.

The Neo-Ascetic doesn’t have to go to great lengths to become sturdy in their frame. They needn’t walk off into the woods or mountains and eat bugs for the rest of their life, however, there are thoughts, patterns and habits they need to become aware of. Quite frankly, all purchases are up for scrutiny. From buying vegetables, to buying petrol. Buying vegetables one might think of where they came from, why do they buy those particular ones, how much they cost and why they want them…who told them they needed them? Buying petrol one might think of why you need to constantly buy it and whether or not that purchase has become a matter of assumption as opposed to what one actually wants. Once the Neo-Ascetic begins to perform this mindfulness a few times it will become quite easy, even fun. You’ll find quite quickly that much of what you own and buy is additional.

The distinction between the Ascetic and the Neo-Ascetic begs further emphasis. The Ascetic adopts an extremely frugal lifestyle as to avoid the distractions of material as a means for spiritual enlightenment. Whereas the Neo-Ascetic adopts an extremely critical attitude towards material as a means to shed the distractions of modernity itself, the Neo-Ascetic doesn’t wish for spiritual enlightenment – in their role as a Neo-Ascetic – but wishes only to use frugality and critique as a means to return to a self which modernity hasn’t tampered with.

It used to be that to deny TV, junk food, mass-medication, drugs, alcohol and the libertine-lifestyle was merely to state that one was not interested in that which the modern had to offer, the quick, the easy, the thoughtless pursuits marketed to empty minds. And maybe this is now simply a matter of repetition, but to deny these comforts is not seen as denying the extra, but it as seen as denying the norm, the standard, the default. If one is to not have a TV, if one sleeps on the floor, wears the same clothes, eats simple meals, does not drink or do drugs, then that person is seen as an outsider. Such a fate is inevitable, and if you don’t wish to become somewhat fringe, then this path isn’t for you – but you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t already doubting all this. Who is your master, comfort and normalcy, or your own will?

Exiting Modernity – 3 – Deus Ex Civitas, The Coma of Modernity

Humans, plural, shall never learn. The destiny of forced homogeneity is death and/or nothingness. We are often told that we should learn from the lessons of the past. Usually we are told this by someone in such a position that it is made clear to the discerning listener, that they most definitely have not learnt from the lessons of the past, whatever they may be. By that I mean, when you hear someone state that we should learn from the lessons of the past it’s usually spouted by someone in power, and as such someone who can ultimately tailor or eschew those ‘lessons’ for whatever gain they wish, in fact, they can make the lessons up if they so wish. The fact we still continue to state that we need to learn from the past means we haven’t, I find the whole thing silly. If you’re waiting for some deus ex civitas – God from the community – then you’ve already missed the point.

Most of us spend our entire lives like Vladimir and Estragon, the protagonists of Beckett’s novel Waiting for Godot. Two helpless chaps who are waiting for a person/entity/thing called Godot, and until he shows up they muse on existential dilemmas and ponder life in general. My synopsis is terrible, but it’s the aimless waiting here that is the point. You’re waiting for something, even if you don’t know it, chances are that ‘thing’ is death. Those of you who’ve read a little and are a little more woke than others might be waiting for a revolution, others might be waiting for capitalism to unshackle itself from the states’ last grasp, some waiting for love, or whatever, you get the idea, you’re sitting about with this awful idea in the back of your mind that things just…happen. And perhaps the only lesson of history we’ve taken onboard is a bastardized form of the ol’ “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (JFK). Well, it’s bastardized in such a way that now the lesson we have taken onboard is as follows, The only thing necessary for the triumph of boredom, unfulfillment and discontentment is that you do nothing.

I can’t blame people for attending to this form of waiting, from day one (once again) it’s instilled within our very nervous system, the idea that change is this other/outside force that acts on its own accord and will enter your life if it so decides. Now, I am not averse to other agencies, forces and pulls throughout the cosmos, however, to sit idly and hope such a force pokes you out of comfort is a silly thing to do. We were taught by TV shows, video games, fantasy novels, the education system and society that things just happen. The hero happens to turn up, the villain is always planning something, politics is a series of (always) big events, books promoting the chosen one, history taught as linear progression of happenings and friends and family discussing gossip, rumours and events of their lives. This entire dynamic pushes the idea that things just happen, all the time, everywhere, everyone is having things happen to them. It pushes the idea that change isn’t a very slow – often quite dull – process, but is a series of bangs.

As much as I cannot blame people for this constructed ennui in-itself, I can blame them for their willingness to roll around it, even revel in it. People who wish for X, whether it be money, a slim-body, a nicer job, a calmer life, never really go for it in any direct way. Usually they rely on third-party apparatus to mollycoddle them along even the most banal changes in their life, as if without a support-system-for-change, nothing can happen. Those losing weight attend weight loss groups, those trying to make more money search through others ideas and mutate them, those looking for a nicer job look at the stereotypical nice jobs they’ve been taught to think are nice, those looking for a calmer life search forum posts on how to de-stress, meditate or minimize. We assume that if others don’t know what we’re doing then there’s little point in doing it.

Other groups shall tell you that the real enemy is the forces of separation between you and everyone else, except, in reality that’s just a covert way of forming their very own ‘They’ or group, isn’t it? The constant push and pull between communal/herd ideas is a tough one to escape. The quickest route out of this form of thinking is to stop believing in change as an abstraction distant from your-self. Others will tell you to expend you energy on attempting to destroy the systems which you believe are altering your life in unfavorable ways. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t elements of the ‘system’ which are out to get the common man, there most definitely are, and they make up the bulk of the system. However, I don’t believe that shoveling the large majority of one’s problems on an abstraction called ‘the system’ is helpful either. It’s an easy-out.

I harp on about the problem with groups a lot, and it was a big thing a many years back, the whole ‘anti-conformist’ angle. I guess it always has been, the irony is of course that those who proclaim that they are ‘anti-conformist’ are just creating a new form of thinking to conform to, see: Punks, Communists, Traditionals, Conservatives, Carnivores, Vegans etc. It’s extremely easy to believe something that has molded itself to seem correct from every direction. “I do X, and X is correct!” The tough thing to admit is this. You have a very limited amount of energy, and the way in which you use it is solely up to yourself, do you truly believe that channeling you energy into another pithy group of idealists is going to alter your own life in any real way? Or are you once again failing to take responsibility. I don’t wish to sound like Peterson here, but 5 early morning rises, trump a thousand imagined revolutions. take your energy away from blaming the other, and channel it into your own feats.

I imagine that you are now thinking, well yes, that’s all well and good saying this, but what are we supposed to do then, what are you alluding to? If you thought that then you’re already very close to a helpful mode of thinking. ‘What are we supposed to do.‘ should be changed to ‘What can I do.’. You know very well there’s plenty of things you most definitely can, or could – with a little preparation – do to increase you fulfillment in life. Quite honestly there’s no excuse to not. It’s the realization that expending your energy on group-think, is really expending your energy in much the same way you do for your employer, allowing it to become the product of someone else’s end-goal. Stop looking for validation or vindication. No one cares you started taking cold showers, or sleep on the floor, or eat a certain diet, or live in a van, just do it. Assimilating these ideas into ‘the system’ is giving them the leeway to become assimilated further and become banal identity’s like everything else has. Remember when people used to just ‘have beards’? I do. But now everyone with a beard is quickly dragged into this mind-numbing identity surrounding beards. The same goes for any TV show, any popular book, anything really, it’s all becoming identity.

Identity has become quite an easy target of late, but it begs a few words. Identity, as it is commonly understood these days is merely a culmination of one’s consumption habits. ‘Well I’m really into Netflix, dogs, pizza, gin and romcoms.’ or ‘Bearded, love football, clubbing and watching Arnie films.’ Humans are at a loss of what to do, say or even think about if it is bereft of a connection to something someone else has created. Rarely do we discuss something the person we are talking to has created or written, to do so would seem strange. Rarely do we discuss how we’re feeling or thinking, what meaning we are finding and our own paths to contentment. Thought has become caught between possessions and standardization.

Practice: If you so wish you can cause ruptures in the cosmos. The way in which you do this is quite simple. Disagree with a notion so commonplace that it is never even thought about. You are indeed allowed to think cars and roads are stupid, that dishwashers and lottery tickets are bought by morons, that bottled water is at best absurd, that themeparks are at heart a form of hell. And you are of course allowed to interject, and throw passion, love and beauty into other’s lives. The way in which you do this too is quite simply. Mention something minor or inconsequential you saw that you found sublime. Say that you saw a squirrel on your route here and he looked jolly, you saw a few cows chewing the grass and they seemed content, tell your friend that it is always great to see them. This is usually enough to knock people out of the coma of modernity.

All group-think is living in the future. What are we going to do, when are we going to do it, when will the community finally be ready and on and on they drone. Your lives must be the space and time unto which you take control, for it is the only area of which you have any direct effect, however, you have all the effect here. You can, quite literally, do whatever you so wish. You can begin by altering the way in which you think. Away from a form of expectation, hoping and desiring towards objects and groups which you half-believe might alter things, towards a way of thinking which admits that changing one’s own life will be tough, there will be sacrifice and there will be many moments of discomfort, but that form of danger shall allow you to grow quicker than anyone sat of the sofa. There’s a saying in the fitness community that walking even 100 meters is still lapping someone sat on the sofa many times. As such, altering just one facet of your life is still a step closer to purer freedom of the self than anyone engrossed in the latest soap opera.

In my recent discussion with Dmitry Orlov he noted that (to paraphrase), If you are to remove all the vices from most people’s lives what do you have left? A shallow…entity. It might be very difficult to swallow, but ask yourself this extremely difficult question: Without my vices, who am I? Without your phone, your clothing taste, your quirky possessions, your taste in media, your book taste or your general object obsession, what are you? Is a large part of what you do, say and revolve around primarily in relation to acquiring, disavowing or generally interacting with objects of entertainment/vices? If the answer is yes, fear not. There are most definitely aspects of yourself which are not to do with escape, vices, entertainment or consumption, you’ve just forgot them, it’s a little sad, but they can be retrieved, but that in itself can be quite a lot of work, I shall extrapolate on how one can begin this process in another post; but for now I shall tell you this, there is no more worthwhile task than the re-enchantment of one’s life and the shedding of modernity’s toxic baggage.

Exiting Modernity – 2 – Willing Slaves to Restriction

The overarching idea which is being written of here is meaning. It has been one of the buzzwords of the alternative scene since the very beginning of Modernity. A phase of history I would argue begins roughly at the end of the 19th century, that is when the clear technological lineages to the distractions which are ruining are daily lives were born: Transport, mass-media, mass-produced food, state education, standardization etc. In part, Modernity is the era in which all of our spontaneous attitudes, creative passions and imaginative weirdness is constricted – usually covertly – due to the fact its very nature is unpredictable. The reason Modernity is against anything (usually) is because that thing is unpredictable, and that which is unpredictable is far more difficult to control, because ultimately if you have no idea what something or more importantly someone is going to do, how can you possibly make preparations to control it/them.

Meaning has now turned into this mythical entity, held up in reverence by the disillusioned, lost and young as that which is to be sought after for its own sake. But meaning has a two-fold existence which is often overlooked, and its between these two meanings of meaning where we can begin to understand that it is actually ourselves who hold the key to our own cage. The first meaning (of meaning) is the one employed by your mind quite literally every second of existence. The screen you’re reading this on has a meaning to you in a nostalgic, technological and knowledgeable sense, a meaning which works in relation to a whole host of other meanings you have placed onto other things within your world. To a certain extent these forms of meaning are useful, very useful in fact, we wouldn’t be able to traverse the world in any coherent sense without a complex circuitry of meaning. However, within modernity meaning is haunted, haunted be the toxic wills of headless ideas, ideologies and groups.

The property that you’re within is just that (now), a property. Which means something entirely different to a home, a house, a building or simply a place to sleep. Whether or not you believe these meanings have infiltrated your subconscious understanding of your surroundings needn’t matter, because the ideas/meanings themselves have already infiltrated the communally accepted language so well that such stresses, anxieties and depressions that come with such linguistic baggage as ‘property’ are already affecting you. Think of a space, any space, or space at all. I imagine you are either thinking of some empty white room, or a space which has a name: School, park, house, shop, road, path etc. The horrid fact is that not only do we abide be these constrictions constantly, but we in fact adore them, they bring us comfort. What is more comforting than knowing your place, constantly. However loud you shout that you’re free, however many ‘meetings’ you attend to discuss freedom, or whatever steps you take to actualize further freedom are always thwarted if you have yet to understand your own internalized patterns of restriction.

If you are to take the time to think of contemporary ‘free’ spaces, the conclusion is usually areas/spaces such as parks, fields or routes – it is not coincidental that all of these revolve around nature. Except these spaces are not in themselves free, for the park has its gates, the routes have their edges and the fields have their presumed purpose. This is where we walk, this is where we play and this is where food is grown, that is how it is, that is how it is, that is how your mind speaks to you subconsciously.

This leads me to the second meaning of meaning, the one we’re sold everyday in some form or other. The meaning of life, what does your life mean, what does it all mean!? We ponder, ponder, ponder and get no closer to any real answer, but we push forward anyway. The unfortunate reality here is that the first and second meaning are very slowly being combined, and for a large majority of the population (speaking primarily of the West here) have already been combined. That is, one’s meaning in life is built upon notions of restriction. If only I could just get that job, then I would be someone/somewhere. If only I could purchase that car, then I’d be seen as X. If I only could go to that country, then I’d be X. You have allowed the meaning in your life to be constricted by meanings imposed by others. Those others include: peer groups, corporations, ideologies, politicians, events, followings, the media and more. You have allowed the socially presumed meanings of the herd to construct the faux-meaning of your own life. Ask yourself why you never questioned any of this? Why did you never take the time to sit down and think on whether or not you agree with these things? You thought you were free, but you were only free within the confines of other’s meanings.

Many state, often which quite loud certainty, that they are indeed free, and lead innovative, playful and joyous lives. Yet these people never take more than a second to question the most basic assumptions of their supposedly free activities. It is a cliche that begs repetition, but what accounts for the large amount of play today – both for adult and child – is simply their parents giving them the technology they believe to be fun, a belief which possessed them via advertisements, media, magazines, music etc. People don’t seem to enjoy, play or create that which they are naturally predisposed to, but they wait, in a state of boredom for something to fill the void of their lives. Usually this means sitting watching TV until work begins again, scrolling through an App or social media feed until work begins again, or finding another method of escape (Drugs, alcohol, porn etc.) until work begins again. Man’s idea of play and enjoyment has been replaced with escapist hedonism, of course this is nothing new, but it begs repetition. Fear not, there is more to life, and it’s found in…going backwards.

“The words ‘we can’t go back’ are just another religious invocation of the great god Progress.” – John Michael Greer

Very few people within modernity will admit it, but deep down they’re virulently against the idea of going backwards, in any way. Whether it’s politically, culturally or materially. Our assumptions surrounding technology are as follows: New technology is better than old technology, more technology is better than less technology, those that promote older ways of doing things are doing so out of nostalgia or some archaic form of conservatism. We believe that Progress is good in all cases. Rarely do we look at the results of progress and assess them based on their own merit, and even more rare is a comparison between the new and old ways in relation to meaning or happiness.

It seems almost impossible to many that they could now exist without a smart-phone, games console or a TV[1]. It is assumed that we can never go back, why is this? Well, it is because everyone else does it, and – quite depressingly – normalcy is extremely comfortable. It’s nice to know you’re ‘in on it’, in on the thing that everyone else is doing/taking part in. No one wants to feel left out, and yet we still do? Smart phones have allowed us to connect to every piece of information ever recorded at an instant, but we retain none of it. They have allowed us to ‘connect’ to all of our ‘friends’ in an instant, and yet when we meet up with our friends they all stare at their phones…texting other friends. We were warned about TVs rotting our brains back in the 70s, “I’m the slime coming out of your TV set!” (Zappa). We didn’t listen, we were too busy focusing on the gimmicks, explosions and crack-like programming of the TV set. There was a time when most of you reading this didn’t have a smart-phone, a fact that has been all but erased from our memories.

The complex bind that we’ve got ourselves in is as follows. We were fine. Perhaps a little bored, but then there’s nothing wrong with boredom, it is in fact helpful in the journey towards finding yourself, if you’re never bored, you’re constantly entertaining yourself with distractions. Anyways, as we grew up and hit the age of 3-7, when we could begin to construct and verbalize what is was we supposedly needed/wanted we began to do so. However, as previously stated, the large majority of these wants were really micro-possessions taking control of our thoughts via the airways of modernity (adverts, media etc.) and so we began to be programmed to want things we never really wanted, or even thought of in the first place! Our desires were constructed. If you never saw or heard of an advert for a waterpark would you want to go on a waterslide? Not only were our desires – such as to-be-entertained, to-be-happy, to-be-fulfilled – but the same channels and circuitry that constructed our desires simultaneously gave us the answer to that desire…what a strange coincidence.

Such constructions of course always fit into the standardized system of time that we’ve been funneled into, and lead to believe is time itself. We go on about the ol’ 9-5, which allows us the ‘free’ time afterwards to watch the same TV show as everyone else, the one we’ve always wanted to see…apparently. The very idea of travel and holidays fits into the allocated holiday time our workplace allows us. Standardized time, the destroyer of spontaneity. Many talk of ‘getting away’, but rarely ever do. Their idea of a break is merely to do the same thing they usually do on the weekends in a different climate. At the bottom of the of ‘getting away’ is the idea of escaping ‘all this’, meaning the meaningless, unfulfilling trap of modernity. Unfortunately it’s restriction all the way down. This next paragraph is going to be long and extremely repetitive, but it’s meant as an exercise in all the assumptions of modernity you take part it on a daily basis, usually without knowing it.

You wake up in your home, it’s yours and you feel secure there. You never really thought about whether you needed security, of course a secure place to sleep is needed, but why did you need all those rooms, were you ever intent on acquiring all the possessions you now own, or did you simply feel obliged to do so? Your neighborhood is called that, but you’ve never really seen or experienced any event which correlates with the notion of neighborly you were sold. A ‘nice neighborhood’ is one where everyone stays inside, and causes no trouble. You get out of your bed which is full to the brim with blankets and pillows, the mattress is so soft you never want to leave. Some people sleep on the floor, did you know that? That’s something you can do if you want. I did for a while and it made it easier for me to get up in the morning. Stop assuming comfort and niceness is your endgame, you were sold that lie and you can dismiss it if you like. You take a nice warm shower and cover yourself in 2-3 products to impress other people, people you rarely get the chance to properly speak to anyway. Many people take cold showers. You go downstairs, prepare your breakfast and sit on the sofa, switching on the TV, because why wouldn’t you? What else are you going to do? Just sit there and enjoy food you have no clue as to how it’s made? How preposterous! You get ready for work, putting on clothes which you’d never want to wear nor purchase for the sake of making a good impression. You get in your car and take the 10-40 minute commute to work. ‘This is normal’ you think to yourself ‘everyone has a commute’, you never think on the amount of your wage that is going towards commuting or car maintenance. You can get a lower paying job closer to home and save money if you like, that is a choice you are free to make. You arrive at work and say the basics to those who you frequently work with. No conversation, you realize, has much merit to it.

“How are you?”

“Pretty good, you?”

“Yeah good thanks.”

 

“Have you seen [insert new superhero film here]?”

“Yeah man, it’s wicked!”

“Yeah I know right.”

 

No one ever really talks to each other properly except in rare bouts of unavoidable emotional duress. You eat your lunch and everyone looks at their phones. You go back to work and do some random stuff on a computer. Your job is obedience and little more. Unless you’re in a job which directly effects people’s lives in some manner, your job is probably complete bullshit, and you know it. Clicking random things on a screen to create the outcome desired by your superiors isn’t a job, it’s willing slavery. ‘That’s life’ you say to yourself, followed with an internal sigh. Well here’s the news, it’s only life if you want/will it to be. You finish up your day and begin the commute home. You can’t wait to get home and watch TV, zone-out, you deserve it you tell yourself, knowing deep down that you really don’t. You don’t feel anywhere near as alive, exhausted or worked as you could, but it doesn’t matter, the monotony has drained your mental abilities to the point where you need a TV to think for you…apparently. You get home, order takeout and eat that in front of the TV, you don’t even focus on the show itself because you’re too busy scrolling on your phone, too busy getting jealous at other’s lives for no reason, too busy distracting yourself from the miserable reality you have willingly walked into. Time for bed, you don’t sleep well. You know why, but wont admit it to yourself. You doze off. You wake up and start it all again.

Practice: There’s a way out, but you need to dwell on this for a while, or at least until your frustrations reach maximum level and you literally cannot take it anymore. Dwell on each and every assumption you make. Channel that energy, when it comes, into the practice of exiting. Which is what exactly, well, for now something quite simple. List 100 things you do everyday – I would just mentally go through your day and write each thing down – and then list next to each one an the primary assumption relation to that activity from the list below (or devise your own list):

Health

Money

Status

Normalcy

Habit

Once you’ve completed the list of 100, yes, all 100, note which assumptions you abide to the most. If a clear assumption comes up outside of those 5, which you’re partaking in routinely, feel free to add in your own category. Once you’ve completed all that, meditate for just 5-8 minutes of why you feel obliged to bow down to that category, why do you assume so much around money, health, status etc. Enjoy.

[1] Even though these are all electronic and screen-based this isn’t the specific area I’m targeting, they’re just the clearest examples of our pressured attachments.

Exiting Modernity – 1 – The Practice of Exit

This will be the series that garners some attention. That might sound like an arrogant statement, but the truth is, I know that people love the repetitions that I will be expounding upon within this series. Exit, escape, anti-consumption, dropping-out, freedom, perspective-change etc. The average Joe[1] loves that stuff. The problem with these actions are that they are exactly that, actions. Now, I’m not actually implying some form of political revolutionary praxis here…far from it. What I’m going to be talking about here is the why and how of personal, individual practice. Because much like learning a language, a trade, magick, a skill, meditation or anything else worth its salt, it is always something that has to be practiced, in that manner one has to be constantly (or as much as possible) practicing the worldview I will be expanding upon. If you think, for just a second (I know it’s hard) on any of those ideas I just put forth: Exit, escape, dropping-out, perspective-change etc. you’ll notice that each one of these in its stagnant form as language is actually a semantic trick. In their existence as written/digital words they seem so complete, finished, done, something you can just clip-on, wear, accessorize or acquire, even, dare I say it…purchase.

It’s been there since you were little, this idea in the back of your mind that basically anything you need/want can simply be acquired via some form of purchase. Whether that’s knowing the right people, having the right amount of money or doing the correct amount of work. Well here’s a sombre lesson for you my friends, meaning doesn’t exist on any form of binary barter system. You consume TV, you subconsciously consume adverts, consume education (commented on in length in a later post), consume ideals and consume notions, traits and habits. Up until now all unquestioned, I make these assumptions about you because I wish someone had made them about me, caused me to well up in a rage and explode in a bout of cathartic frustration at the situation bottled up – I want to leave, and I don’t know how!

There are some things that of course cannot be purchased, this we are told time and time again by those attempting to sell us those things. Can’t put a price on love says the dating app, can’t buy happiness says the holiday company, can’t put a price on peace says the cover of that new Mindfulness book. The best things in life are free! Is belting out of the radio, right before the adverts start. Of course, this notion of ‘free’ is in relation to cost and not constriction. If we turn that phrase a on its head just a little and take the implication that the best things in life are free (as in freedom, not free beer), then we’re getting closer to the idea that I am beginning with here.

When I state that ‘exit’ needs to be practiced I mean it, for exiting, dropping out and changing your perspective are all processes and anything process based generally needs to be practiced, no man ever got the performance, ritual or action correct on his first try, exiting – which is the word I’ll use throughout this series to denote what has been historically entitled ‘Dropping out of society’ – is not an event in itself, it can’t be, otherwise it is simply a movement. One is either consistently exiting, stuck or – in very rare cases – individually enlightened/content/at peace with the cosmos. You harboring the ideals of anarchists and egoists in itself is not exit is it? You cannot stop there, otherwise all you have done is grown a little narcissism. You can now go around and look at how dumb everyone is, even though you’re still within the same spaces of them, what have you applied?

An early digression here on revolution, communal action and mass praxis. I am not for them. Shock horror, this isn’t another one of those blogs, the ones which extrapolate on the same bullshit leftism deus ex machina, or in this case deus ex civitas. Just because there’s a lot of you doesn’t mean that it will change anything. Communal action is fantastic in relation to the local. Other than that it’s merely the act of selling out your own need for discipline to the herd. Yes, that’s right, even your perfect social justice group is a herd, even you anti-group-think punks are a herd, any group aligned behind a clear political motive should be suspicious to you, to your self. What do they want with me? What are they doing that I couldn’t have done myself? Let us turn to a short analysis of one of my favorite poems to show you the perils of group-think:

Archaic Torso of Apollo – Rainer Maria Rilke

     We cannot know his legendary head

with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.

Rilke here writing of a decaying marble statue that has lost its head, but in every other way it is perfect, beautiful. You can never know the head of the movement you’re ‘within’, because much like the way in which contemporary politics has been taken (on a ride not entirely of its own creation) all herds are either without a shepherd, or cannot spot the man who is herding him, as such, “We [you] cannot know his legendary head”. You are however a part of the brilliance of the torso, that entire which supports the head (the vision, the direction) itself, and so, you must change your life.

Why do you not simply cast yourself off from the directionless torso of the masses and birth yourself a new as an individual head? The reason is quite simple. Being part of a group takes no action, discipline or responsibility on your part, or any part of the others, hence why herds are like Apollo’s torso, perfectly sculpted, but nothing without a head to sculpt it. The head can exist unto itself.

In this manner consumerism is a torso without the possibility of head, for the multitude of (falsely created) desires can never find a coherent direction, it is a multiplicity of bullshit symbols and expectations. Be wary that you don’t fall for its trap of expecting something to just happen. These are the images they sell you, these are the symbols with base meaning. Purchasing clothes, a new car, a big house, fancy books, fancy food, the latest phone or any other detritus of modernity is not only the act of purchasing a distraction, but the act of purchasing a distraction which allows you to feel as if you have taken responsibility.

Instead of taking the time to learn about your local surroundings and history you buy a car to drive from new place to new place, instead of learning how to cook you buy take out or junk food, instead of learning about your own body and what it can do you buy fancy clothes to cover up your own failings, instead of learning to think for yourself you buy a big TV to think for you. These objects of modernity are conclusions which allow you the illusion of taking responsibility for your life, when in reality you have done the exact opposite, you have sold yourself, your time, to the laziness of your whim, to whichever random subconscious falsely created desire took hold that day. You hope, you scroll, you search for that thing which will be the final thing to complete everything, the final car, house, TV, book etc. ‘This will be the one’ you think subconsciously, but it never is.

Why do you do this? Because the last sentence of Rilke’s final stanza You must change your life is most likely your worst nightmare. And it is easier to change literally anything else, than change your self. You know how painful that’s going to be, you know how difficult it’s going to be, and in those moments of terror you retreat into your comforts. This is why, as I stated earlier, one must practice exit. There can be no object of exit. Exit is only a conclusion in the sense that it opens your mind to new avenues of thought. If your taken exit has lead you into a dead-end, or locked room, you’ve been duped. Nothing which leaves you stuck or stagnated can be considered exit. If you feel you are existing on the sidelines of life, the answer is not to be found within objects or material, but in personal, individual experience.

Practice: In the same way that you have control over whether or not you buy that Marvel figure, you also have control over whether or not you don’t, or even care about such a thing – you even have such control over your actions that you stop and ask, ‘Do I actually enjoy/like/want to do this or am simply being pulled by something?’ Of course the primary reason you’ve done/acquired any of these things is because you believe in some form of status, or, you believe you are being watched. For if you are being watched, you matter, you’re worth watching, you exist. Ask yourself if this actually matters? Do you sincerely care what other people think of you? How much time do you spend thinking of yourself as opposed to thinking about other people? Probably around 90-95% of the time, right. As such, other people are usually doing the same, ergo, they’re not thinking of you. No one fucking cares about your shit. Do things with yourself, your body, experience life, even in the most minor, inconsequential ways – not because you wish to be watched, recorded or envied, but because experience is at the heart of existence, and personal experience can neither be sold, bought or commodified.

You must practice exit as much as you possibly can, and at its cantankerous heart exit is simply a matter of questioning, critiquing, deconstructing and destroying presumptions, whether they’re social, cultural, political, personal or familial – You can leave, the only reason you don’t is because your current comfort supposedly outweighs the risk of exit, this is sunk cost. Ask yourself a couple of questions, firstly: What’s worse, existing in an almost comatose state of being for the sake of comfort for the rest of your life, or taking a risk and attending to the dangerous heart of true experience? And secondly: Were you really put on this Earth to be fucking comfy? Or, in short: Is it worth prolonging a life you detest?

But much like anything that has to be practiced mastery takes time, and mastery of exit isn’t something that can ever truly be attained, at least in an abstract sense. Of course, if your ideal exit is a homestead, van-dwelling, country-living etc. then sure, go for it. But don’t forget to question those assumptions too. In this manner Exit is critique. By practice I mean question, and by question I mean everything. Modernity is a culmination of rackets that provide you with presumptions, presumptions which make you anxious, depressed, lonely and alienated, unless of course you buy into the presumption, the comfortable, herd-accepted assumption that you need X, Y and Z to be normal. Modernity created your inner anxiety and also created its purchasable cure, Exit allows one to bypass the cure and destroy the idea of infection; Modernity is Oz behind the curtain, and currently you’re admiring his tricks.

 

[1] A note on the concept of ‘The Average Joe’. I don’t seriously think such an average person exists, everyone is unique in some way, and I don’t mean that in a ‘everyone is special’ soppy way. Only that, everyone’s journey through life has been unique and as such that makes the conception of average as a unified truth, impossible. With that said, such an idea in relation to what Nietzsche called ‘The Herd’ most definitely does exist. The average Joe, as I see it, is someone who simply has never – even in the most minor way – questioned their presumptions about life, and as such they’re entire existence is a manner of being pulled by whichever force has the greatest pull at that moment, be it a Marvel film, a margherita pizza or a lifelong career, in needn’t matter, the average Joe is unquestioning.

Dropping Out: Why and How?

The intro can be read by all, but is largely for long time readers of the blog. Click here to go to the main section: Dropping Out: Why & How?

I remember when this all started, the blog, the Twitter account etc. Couple of years ago now. At the time there was a Twitter user who went by the handle ‘Nishiki Prestige’, here is my review of his album XOXO. Anyway, Nishiki was, for lack of a better description, a ‘free spirit’. Now, I’m not entirely sure what that means anymore, but he certainly had it out for civilization at large, wasn’t keen on society and was extremely open in explaining why all this was pretty annoying, bad and generally frustrating, and he was even more helpful and lobbing resources one’s way to help with the exit process. One of the first things ol’ Nishiki sent me was Ran Prieur’s How to Drop Outwhich is deserving of a full read for any up-and-coming fringe societal member, or anyone in general who is finding it difficult to find what they want within the surroundings they’ve been given. As such I want to make it very clear how much of an inspiration Prieur’s post was on this one. These things often need tweaking and updates, I mean isn’t that the point of ‘dropping out’, to truly think for yourself, and as such, I think that the drastic changes between ’04 and 19 have been enough to warrant my own musings on dropping out as a whole.

Now before I begin this piece I want to comment on a comment I’ve received. It was on my How To Live Like an Emperor for Very Little piece. Now admittedly the title of that piece was a little annoying, but the reason I wrote it was because I’d had one of those days where you get truly nauseous at the attitudes of the average, whinging, moaning, pathetic man – those who just cannot make their own choices, those for whom everyone else is to blame, and there is always someone else to blame. Now the comment states:

“If the post didn’t have that arrogant “I just got my life sorted out why haven’t you?” tone I probably wouldn’t even have noticed how much of the advice was nonsense,”

Take of leave the advice on my post, I don’t care. But in my reply to the comment I state: As for the ‘I just got my life sorted out why haven’t you?’ remark, I don’t mind it. But the whole point of my use of language in other posts – becoming & overcoming specifically – is that ‘sorting yourself out’ isn’t a conclusion, it’s a journey, as soon as you think you’re complete and have sorted it all out, you’re stuck and ignorant. It’s all about the journey. This post was a sort of cantankerous reaction to much of the ironic and moany behavior I see from a lot of people aged 20-40 nowadays. Everything is fucked and it’s someone else’s fault. I say no, take action, you have choices and possibilities.

There’s a question here to be stated: When is the correct time to offer advice? Of course if there’s a *clear* goal in mind such as money etc. then those who have money can offer advice and those who are failures in increasing money cannot. However, when it comes to happiness, fulfillment and contentment, alongside means to exit modernity who can truly give advice. A large amount of the boomers can’t because their goals are empty – that’s not saying many are content etc. – I’m simply giving advice which I have found has made my life more fulfilling and meaningful. I’d like to think my readership is intelligent enough to not simply take everything at face value. And I’d like to make is even clearer that I by no means have my life ‘sorted out’, not even close, but I have found many things in the past few years that have made me happier and my life more meaningful, and I see no harm in explaining them to you so you may give them a try.

And with that, I trust you too dear reader, will not take everything I state at face value and will think for yourself as to whether or not the path I promote is truly one you wish to venture down.

 

DROPPING OUT: WHY AND HOW?

 

WHY?

 

‘Why drop out?’ isn’t a something I imagine many of my readers will really question too much, so I guess this extrapolation is for those who’ve stumbled across this post and are wondering what all this ‘dropping out’ stuff is about, hence, the ‘why’ at large. See, as much as I love Ran Prieur’s original How To Drop Out post, it does gloss over the ‘why’ very quickly, which in terms of motivation, discipline and rationale should be assimilated into one’s thought as thoroughly as possible, for when the path gets tough – as it inevitably will do – when dropping out, one can always return to the overarching why of ‘why to drop out’.

Of course, we will need one of those horrid things called ‘definitions’, the cause of much frustration to all involved really. Then again, the definition of ‘dropping out’ isn’t really going to be argued over by those who already have, they’re already living. Dropping Out implies that there is not only something to ‘drop out’ from, but assumes that the ‘thing’ one is dropping out from is bad, and is something that one would want to drop out from. In my post The Virulent Magic of Modernity I generally define this ‘thing’ as ‘modernity’. I guess you could call it Western civilization if you wanted (though that has historical connotations), you might even call it society, but that too would have social connotations, and what we’re really talking about here is personal choice, will and action, we’re talking about an individual (me or you) making a choice to exit, or drop out. Dropping Out then, is the critical mental journey one undertakes as they begin to enter society at an atomized worker.

It begins with the excessive moments of mind-numbing boredom found in the average workplace, it’s found on the journeys to and from said workplace wherein one is tired, empty and wondering why they’re doing this in the first place. It is found in the heart-wrenching lunch-breaks one wishes they could be spending with their children, it is found on the sofa, night after night, watching empty drivel on TV as you consume food sourced from 10 different countries and packaged in oil-based wrapping, it is largely found in the moments where it seems all direct connection to anything has been lost.

In short then ‘Dropping Out’ is simply the – critical – process of ‘leaving’ the normalcy imposed upon you by society. It is to say ‘I would rather not.’, ‘I do not do that.’ or ‘No.’ in the face of assumed choices. It is the beginning of freedom. It is shouting at the top of one’s lungs “This is not fucking normal!”. I know you’ve felt this, you look around and see droves of people who are so disconnected from their own realities it amazes. By that I mean that the large majority of people exist in such a way that they are disconnected from anything that is primarily to do with their actual existence or survival. Now, I don’t want to get too Darwinian, but it is inescapable. People who haven’t cooked a meal (fed themselves) in weeks, people who rely on third party tools, groups and processes to allow them to even be, and people continue to strive in this direction too. Or as Ted Kaczynski states in paragraph 38 of his manifesto:

When people do not have to exert themselves to satisfy their physical needs they often set up artificial goals for themselves. In many cases they then pursue these goals with the same energy and emotional involvement that they otherwise would have put into the search for physical necessities.

People are disconnect, alienated and walking around in a daze because their lives no longer consist, nor do they need to consist of that which actually keeps them alive. We are a species bereft of all primary responsibility (I am talking predominantly of the West here of course). One of the best commentators on contemporary Western life is John Michael Greer, who articulates the struggle of the system as such:

For most people in today’s America, in other words, the closest approach to the glorious consumer’s paradise of the future they can ever hope to see is eight hours a day, five days a week of mindless, monotonous work under the constant pressure of management efficiency experts, if they’re lucky enough to get a job at all. On top of that, they get to spend a couple of additional hours commuting and work any off-book hours the employer happens to choose to demand, in order to get a paycheck that buys a little less each month – inflation is under control, the government insists, but it’s funny how prices somehow keep going up – of products that are more shoddily made, more frequently defective, and more likely to pose a serious threat to health and well-being of their users with every passing year. Then they can go home and numb their nervous systems with those little colored pictures on the screen, showing them bland little snippets of experiences they will never have, wedged in there between the advertising. That’s the world progress has made.” – John Michael Greer, The Retro Future.

In short, the answer to the ‘why’ of ‘why drop out’ is most succinctly found in the following quote by Bukowski:

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?

Why do you want to drop out of all this? Because you know, deep down, there’s more to all this, there literally has to be. I promise you, there is. Life is found in the most unexpected, simple and mundane places, complexity breeds complacency. The best way to get your life back is drop out and live simply. Quite simply:

“Why drop out?”

“I’m not happy, content or fulfilled and my life is bereft of meaning.”

 

HOW?

 

It seems insurmountable doesn’t it? From here, from all that I’ve previously written surely such a behemoth of complexity and confusion is nigh impossible to exit or drop out of. I will be honest with you, it’s difficult, not as difficult as one might think, but certainly more difficult that romantics would like you to know. The primary difficulty in dropping out is that one’s entire frame of reference has to change for them to be able to continually survive in their newfound life.

If it hasn’t been made clear already the primary component of society/modernity which makes man miserable is money. Money, production, consumption etc. The idea that one has to be doing or using of these three things for their life to have any meaning is a deep-seated belief for almost all inhabitants of the West. If one is to re-read the Bukowski quote above they realize that all aspects of the ‘loop of modernity’: Work > Home > Eat > Purchase > Work, are reliant on a certain attitude towards money. The attitude that money in and of itself is a meaningful end, whether or not that money has been converted into items or luxuries etc. either way, one’s purpose was to acquire money. Now, I’m not silly, I know we all need money to survive, that’s obvious. It’s just that most people know that it’s actually their choice how they use it, and not the choice of the 1001 forces acting upon them to part with their money on a daily, hourly…second…ly basis.

Prieur makes it very clear that dropping out as seen as simply quitting your job and getting a train to god-knows-where is a dumb idea. If you want to make dropping out work then that’s something you’ll have to do. Such an assertion once again makes it clear that dropping out isn’t primarily a material choice, but a shift in one’s understanding of their life. If you shift your perception in such a way that you literally don’t need as much money, then guess what, you will no longer need as much money…magical, isn’t it.

In my discussion with John Michael Greer we spoke about the animatronic Santa Claus robots you see at Christmas. You know the ones, you press a little button and they do a little dance and song. See, they’re great at articulating how one needs to change their perception towards consumption if they wish to be able to drop out. The point Greer makes is that if one was to think about said purchase for more than say, a nanosecond, you most certainly wouldn’t purchase it. Even a few quick questions to oneself – ‘Do  I need this?’, ‘Did I ever want this?’, ‘Will this add anything to my life?’ and you realize that not only did you never need/want this item, but you were in fact subconsciously affected into even considering it, it’s an item that if it didn’t exist, you never would have thought of – people are selling you things that you both never wanted and never even thought of, don’t fall for their tricks, think! And so the first practical ‘how’. Before you purchase anything (at least for the first few weeks) think to yourself ‘Do I actually need this?’, ‘Will buying this improve my life?’ – or at least improve your life in such a way that working a few hours was worth it. Measure your purchases not in monetary value, but in how many hours you had to work to acquire whatever it is you wish to buy.

As for jobs this is a leap I’ve made myself. I worked this very cushy (sit on your arse and do basically nothing) marketing job until very recently. See, even though I did very little I was miserable because the work itself had no tangible effect on reality, I was helping no one and there was no benefit from the work I was doing, except in absurd statistical terms. And so I quit and joined a local woodworking company. The days go fast, the work is satisfying and most importantly there’s no bullshit. I don’t take the work home with me (mentally), there’s no bureaucratic crap and I can see the results of my work (someone now has a working door or window).

So this ties in with a brilliant point that Prieur makes, you can drop out ‘a short distance’. By that I mean that just because one is dropping out, it doesn’t mean they have to start dumpster diving and growing their own food straight away. You can start by asking yourself this important question:

“Is the stress/bullshit/aggravation I take home from my current job worth the money I receive?”

If the answer is no, which it most likely is, then you have to start looking at what you can do about that. Is there a less stressful job nearby that you could happily do? See, once you alter your perception regarding consumption the fundamental (supposed) point of jobs changes. I mean, why do people want really ‘good’ jobs? What do we really mean when we say a ‘good job’? We’re not on about perks, job content or anything else are we, we’re on about money. A good job is one that pays more than the average. And so the large majority strive to get a good job so that they can also get a good (larger) house and a good (newer) car and good (branded) clothes and…you get the picture. Well, once you’re get yourself outside of these assumptions it all changes doesn’t it:

You don’t need branded clothes because you’re life isn’t that vacant and empty that you care about having a little tag on your clothes.

You don’t need a newer/fancy car because the purpose of a car is to get you from A-to-B, if it works, it’s a good car.

You don’t need a larger house because ultimately the only reason you’d ever need a larger house is to fit a load of shit in that you no longer need.

You no longer need a good/well-paying job because you don’t need the money to buy all the shit you don’t need.

Once this happens what does a job become? Well it becomes something you do only because it allows you money to do that which you enjoy doing, or because you simply need some money to pay for rent/shelter, food, hobbies and needed extras.

It’s amazing that such a different in temperament can change your life drastically. Imagine 2 separate people, both working the same job. Person 1 strives for all the unneeded creature comforts of modernity, the big TV, the fancy car, the big house, the trinkets and luxuries etc. To be able to achieve such a lifestyle they work all the extra hours they can and stress about their work performance, they take out loans to be able to afford these things etc. Their life revolves around nothing but the acquisition of items of status and proof that one is normal. Person 2 has dropped out. They work the job and don’t take home any stress because their wage not only covers all their expenses, but leaves them a little extra, simply because they understand things differently. Their life doesn’t revolve around consumption.

Some other skills which will allow you to drop out:

Learn how to fix your car and drive it until that thing is on the verge of imploding. Don’t buy into the ‘Needing the latest car’ thing (or the ‘needing the latest anything…thing’ for that matter), there’s literally no reason – aside from empty status and narcissism – that you need that a new, or updated car. If it works fine, ask yourself, why am I replacing it? On top of this, if you do decide to move jobs try move to on which is within walking/biking distance of your work – commuting is for idiots, you cannot get time back. And time spent with friends and family is more important that a 2 hour commute for some extra money. A side note on this, try calculate the amount you spend on fuel, maintenance and additional car extras due to the commute – definitely isn’t worth it.

Get your clothes from charity shops. Or, if you’re like most people, you’ve already bought at least 3-4 pairs of trousers, 5-10 shirts, 2 dress shirts, socks and boxers. You don’t need more, buying new clothes is boredom. You’re bored. Alongside this the idea of ‘boredom’ is a strange one. There isn’t really such a thing as boredom as far as I’m concerned, I can quite happily sit and do nothing and not be bored. Boredom is the feeling that you’re missing out on doing something, be it TV, video games, entertainment in general, it’s the idea that you’re not fine unless you’re doing something…it always turns out those ‘things’ cost quite a bit, what a strange coincidence. Learn to be OK with solitude and nothingness, it is quite beautiful once you settle in.

Learn how to cook, I cannot believe I even have to explain this. You’re a human being, one of your primary needs is food, nutritious food. If you routinely eat from packets then you’ve sold your survival to the lowest bidder. When someone says to me they cannot cook I take that as the greatest statement of immaturity, imagine letting consumer society get such a tight grip on you that you never even learnt how to feed yourself.

There is of course more I could add here, a lot more in fact, but the main thing that people should take away from this is that dropping out is possible and that it doesn’t have to be some drastic change where you end up homeless or squatting. One can drop out mentally first, and then attend to material matters.

There’s beauty out there, and it’s hidden. Hidden behind layers of societal pressures and cultural presuppositions, remove everyone else’s expectations of you and you’ll find yourself.

Resources:

Your Money or Your Life – Vicki Robin

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush – John Michael Greer

Voluntary Simplicity – Duane Elgin

Early Retirement Extreme

 

 

The Virulent Magic of Modernity

“The black-room problem. If a human being is placed in a completely black and silent room, his mind is totally destroyed in a matter of days or weeks. The reason is obvious. Even when surrounded by physical stimuli our value sense gets eroded too easily. We let ourselves sink into the downward spiral. It is even more so in the black room. Man’s habitual, negative, devaluing tendency now has the run of his mind, unchecked by sudden bonuses of delight or glimpses of misery and danger that restore the sense of reality. It is like placing a man with a persecution complex among people who do rather dislike him.”

This excerpt from Colin Wilson’s The Occult is part of a larger section on the work of George Gurdjieff. I wont venture into his work here, I’ll only state that I’m not entirely sure whether this problem takes precedence in Gurdjieff’s oeuvre, or whether Wilson found it elsewhere, with that said Wilson’s remarks on being surrounded by physical stimuli got me thinking about modernity.

‘Modernity’ is a term I constantly use and my followers and readers seem to understand what I mean by it. Even though ‘modern’ and ‘modernity’ can actually have very specific meanings, especially with regard to Modernism etc. But that’s never been what I meant by it. In fact, come to think of it ‘modernity’ – as I use it – is one of those times wherein the problem of an inability of articulation comes to the fore. I just cannot for the life of me correctly articulate to you what I mean when I write ‘modernity’. The closest I’ve come to being able to articulate it is ‘disenchantment’ or even anti-enchantment, but then of course I would have to define enchantment. Herein is another problem, one of modernity, namely, definition. Why do I feel so compelled to define this all for you? I don’t know, but I believe that perhaps the aforementioned ‘black-room problem’ may help me in my quest to articulate to you, the reader, what modernity is, and why it is oh so corrosive to the soul, to the possibility of essence and to one’s spirit.

Wilson writes of this black-room, and for the life of me I can’t see how that reality is all that different to that lived by your average schmuck. On a purely banal sensory level yes, the reality would be different, for your average person would see black and hear nothing, as opposed to seeing stuff and hearing odds and ends. Perhaps by the end of this you can ask yourself which is better, eternity in black silence, or eternity in noisy mall…

The black-room problem assumes that one steps into this room from another point-of-view. The problem with ‘The Room of Modernity’ is that no one really had this option, did they? How does one know they’re in a room if they’ve never had another room to use as comparison, reaction or haven? Where in the black-room one sees black, in the Room of Modernity one sees what modernity wants it to see: adverts, TVs and TV shows, education syllabi, economic systems, disjointed natural relations, adverse reactions to nature, consumption-as-virtue, consumption-as-entire/-as-identity, the assumption of the construction of identity, trinkets galore, level-based systems of ‘achievement’ etc.

Basically, the Room of Modernity is a self-referential feedback loop pertaining to the idea that those inside the room are within the only room that ever existed, and that one’s options for existence are solely to identify with lesser or greater degrees of modernity. If you wish to understand how deep you have fallen into the trap of modernity, then listen up, this begs repetition, for to assimilate the next few paragraphs into your understanding, into your soul and actions as a being is to begin a personal process of becoming and overcoming.

Your day is not yours. The day is an entirely false concept based upon early agricultural tradition of rising and setting with the sun – once again, nothing new (under the sun). As such you chain your emotions, feeling and physical inclinations to a time-frame that is entirely not of oneself. You feel tired and crave a sleep without a stressful tomorrow, such a tomorrow cannot exist and so tiredness becomes the norm. In fact, you’ve been programmed to ignore those things entirely as if they were indeed…things, which of course they are not. By emotions I do not mean contemporary aspirational virtue wherein one casts forth pithy adoration for the latest piece of trivial pop media. I mean the (lacking) emotional vitality of breathing the sun into one’s lungs, of using your second tongue to melt the most basic of foods into a dream, to not use your body, but understand that your body is secondary to the process of the mind, and so the body flings itself to the rhythms of the spirit. But no, you keep stagnant at the desk-of-desire, moving 100 steps a day at most, and eating the deadened remains of plastic packets! More.

You go to your job. A fact imposed upon all from birth as if it was so. The fact you go is already a problem, but prior to the problem is the problem. The assumptions of modernity: ‘It is just what you do.’, ‘Ah, you’ll get used to it kid.’, ‘Everyone’s gotta do it.’ and my single least favorite sentence of all time (sincerely): ‘That’s life.’.

All those who declare in the assumptive tone of modern man the statement ‘That’s life.’ with the utmost sincerity – as if it meant all was secure, and that all is how it should and will be forever, and that the individual has no means of exit –  should be flailed in the gutter, for they are already dead, quite literally. This is the cry the deceased begging you to join it in a living-death. For what comes of following the apathetic commands of these zombies, to follow their call ‘That’s life.’ is simply to follow the whim of modernity’s lowest bidder with regard to your life. Now back to your job.

Most of these jobs are not work, not in the true sense of ‘work’. This is not another pseudo-Protestant rant from Meta about acquiring a trade and exiting ‘bullshit jobs’. It is along those lines, but continues into something deeper. Work in its truest sense is that which you derive an immanent satisfaction from, it is that which when undertaken feels as if one is attending to the purpose of both their body and mind. The average job nowadays is little more, in its deconstruction, than moving a small piece of plastic with your arm, as a way to make the correct numbers appear in front of those who could remove you from that job. To make sure the statistics are correct so you don’t lose the job you hate. You go to this job too, you use your time to appear at this place which makes no sense to you outside of its own presumptions.

I am not presuming that one and all can acquire the perfect purpose within their life, in fact, such a conclusion of the perfect end to one’s life is completely not what I’m aiming at here. The process of overcoming is exactly that, a process, many forget this. The majority assume a position of completeness given to them subconsciously (magickly) by the Room of Modernity. See, the Room of Modernity with all its things, items, objects and atheistic materialism has inherent within its circuitry a subconscious emanation of completion and conclusion. For what is an object but a definite item/thing, it is fucking done. And one is entirely surrounded by these objects, but not only these objects and items but an idea structure of objects. A job which in its deconstruction equals the means to continue said job and to acquire items of status, security and wealth. These items are connections to groups, hobbies and friends who share their attraction to these items, these conclusions. ‘I do X too!’

The job that gets you money, to purchase land close enough to the job to get to the job easily, so one can afford more items to put into one’s house and prove to one’s friends that you also are ‘in on it’ You have the same conclusions as everyone else, you too are in the Room!

Once again, I do not wish for all to ditch their possessions and become an ascetic, nor remove themselves from society entirely, it is just a matter of questioning. One must perform meditations on even the most simple of tasks, that is where the fragments of the real are found, in excavations of one’s habits (for starters).

And so you return ‘home’ from your job and ‘relax’. Relax from what exactly? Have you ever asked yourself this? For I imagine all readers here have done at least one day of truly hard work. Where when you return home you quite literally have to take the weight off your feet, your entire body pulses with a form of heat and muck, a state one can relax quite easily from. And yet we find that those with the most mundane, meaningless and bullshit jobs are the ones who most commonly shout about their holidays and time relaxing, what must they relax from is the nothingness of their existence. They relax but it is what you do. They go on holidays because it is what you do. They buy big TVs because it is what you do. Fancy cars, fancy clothes, certain ideas, certain opinions, foods, lifestyles, ideologies, careers, motives, principles, all because it is what you do. And if the only reason one has done something is because it is what everyone else is doing, then they have in fact not truly done that thing, not as an act or statement or cause or conviction, no, they have only performed it under the spell of modernity.

The Room of Modernity emanates some of the most potent magic to ever be conjured. Magic which has virulently infected all sensory pathways and become a compound circuitry of control. There is no sense which has not been quite literally effected by the magic of Modernity.  Dion Fortune (Violet Firth Evans), one of the most important magical theorists of the twentieth century, defined magic as “the art and science of causing changes in consciousness in accordance with will.” And so what can we say of Modernity in relation to this definition of magic. That the Room of Modernity, Modernity itself is a civilization-based engine of repressive magic, fueled by industry and man’s inherent ignorance and stupidity. It’s got you by the spine my friends and you must shed every single trace of modernity you can and rebuild! By that juncture the idea of ‘rebuilding’ will be entirely new to you. One can learn to use magic to cause changes in accordance with their will, or they can allow the magic of modernity to cause changes to their will unannounced, who’s in control here?

Do not be a creature of habit, that is the attribute that makes you come across as a creature! You state you question things, that you are knowledgeable and ‘well-read’, pah! The buzzwords of a crook. You my friend have drunk the magical Kool Aid of modernity, savored every drop and sought only to explore the deep recesses within the Room of Modernity. For one cannot exit the Room from within the Room, because – if you hadn’t worked this out by now – the Room is not a physical space, it is an ideological fort which you allow to be upheld as the kingdom of your own mind. The foundations of the Room were forced onto you at birth – unless you are of fortunate temperament – and your assumptions, apathy and ignorance allowed for the rest of its walls to be built, and adulthood secured the warming roof of Modernity above your head, solidifying the fact in your mind that all this was of course planned and was meant to be like this, for as you state…’That’s life.’

So wherein can one find the exit? Of course one is within the Room, which as explained is a construction largely (make no mistake, it’s very ‘real’ too) of one’s mind, but of course and always one is still in control of their mind, their will. As such one can with practice, ever-so-slowly, remove layers and layers of Modernity until eventually, one day, realizations happen within oneself and the Room of modernity begins to crumble and decay, never to be built again. Stop attending to things as an escape. No amount of TV, video games, music or food is ever going to allow you to overcome the self. The answers are within, as they have always been. You must meditate on the most banal assumptions until they wither away into a heap of shocking presumptions. You must think for yourself, to ask oneself at each and every turn, however small, if this is the way you wish to go. I repeat these notions of freedom because many still follow the paths of others even when they most certainly think they are not.

You are allowed to do as you please.

Let me repeat that and beg that you meditate of this phrase for at least 5 minutes.

You are allowed to do as you please.

If you want to you may draw intricate 5′ x 5′ sketches of soggy moss, if you want to you can walk and stand in the road, if you want to you can climb a tree and pray for 9 hours straight, if you want to you can deconstruct all your possessions, if you want to you can live in a fridge – you have limited yourself in so many ways – if you want to you can meditate on cooling processes for days, if you want to you can sit and do nothing, if you want to you can sit and do everything, if you want to you can sit and breath in weird ways.

You’re much freer than you ever allowed yourself to be, the magic of modernity is – in part – to blame, but it is up to you to practice exit methods and find your own way out of the Room.

 

The Bus Kept Going

They got on the bus at the bus stop, because that was where you were supposed to get the bus from.

The bus arrived. It was bland, as almost all buses are.

There was a few of them. Rarely does a single person get on a bus. Buses are for herds. A handful of folk, a group…an event of people.

The inside of the bus was fairly standard. The seats were very dry, their colors were faded and the plastic was extremely thick. Nothing in here can hold enchantment, not an inch of this place can retain myth. The air is recycled nothingness. A temporal void, to sit in the static of modernity is to ride this bus.

The passengers were mostly overweight. Their faces round and their skin pimply. No real style or aesthetics, simple assemblages of that which was within the windows that surrounded them.

They saw things and they knew other people saw these things, so they bought these things. T

hey all held devices, the intention of which was to communicate with other people, this intention had failed and faded before it had even begun. They communicated only the fact they could communicate. Much like thinking, once they were free to communicate 24/7 the passengers of the bus realized they had very little to communicate. The devices allowed for lots of other things. None of the things ever helped the passengers in anyway. But they still clung to their devices.

Some of them spoke to each other about items they had acquired that day. Some of them blocked their ears and listened to music. Some looked at their feet whilst the trees passed by.

None of them had any expression of merit. They couldn’t be sincere, they had never held a principle higher enough for them to be sincere, they only got the bus each day, that is what they did. That is what they chose to do, to get the bus again and again. And so they were on the bus and the bus started to move.

As the bus pulled away the town it pulled away from continued on. The passengers on the bus lurched forward. The movement signified that they were all together in…something. They paid no attention to the fact it began to move, this was normal. They paid no attention to the sounds, smell or tastes of the bus, these were normal. They paid no attention, they were a big big frown. The bus turned 3 more corners and they had left the town.

The bus continued down roads, some big, some smaller. Mostly trees went past the windows, then they were gone and it was houses, still no one looked at them, or looked up. The passengers were not in a daze, or concentrating, they were simply there. They were passengers. Sometimes the bus would go past quite big structures and some of the eyes of the bus would fixate on it for a few seconds. Then the eyes would return to the strange in-between space of modernity. The veil between narcissism and reality, their eyes fixated on the lies they had been told which they wished to achieve. Their eyes then, were fixed on nothing.

The bus kept the same speed.

The bus went past the first stop without stopping or even halting.

The bus went past the second stop without stopping.

The bus went past the third stop.

None of the passengers cared or were bothered. They were not apathetic, they were just there.

One man on the bus had a big green coat on. He really liked his big green coat. When he looked at his big green coat he was made happy by the decision he had made to buy it. He returned to this thought often. He also looked out of the window sometimes, he didn’t think of much. Dinner, work, TV – he hadn’t done or seen any of these for a while. But he thought of them a bit. He looked at the woman next to him, she looked back and smiled. She then looked out of her window and thought of bread.

The towns flew past the windows of the bus. The passengers bodies moved in the manner of modern man, in small jolts and lumbering small aches and releases. No one really moved, they just rearranged the stiffness. There was the occasional physical catharsis. A sigh big enough to ease of any especially energetic atmosphere. The passengers were against energy, nor for it, they were and were and were. Sometimes the bus swayed.

The bus kept going.

Some of the passengers mentioned that the bus had kept going and had been going a little longer than usual. The other passengers tutted or made subtle noises as to agree with the overheard statements. The consensus of the bus’ entire was that it had kept going. Subconsciously this was agreed and then the bus fell into a quick silence.

It had been a long time since the bus had started and kept going. The passengers occasionally looked up from their seats and out of the windows. Some would see towns quite like their own pass by, only to realize that it was not their town but someone else’s, someone not on the bus. And so their heads would return to their seats.

Sometimes, once every few years, a passenger would get up and check on the driver. There was no driver. But no passenger told the other passengers there was no driver. Eventually they all knew there was no driver. There was no melancholy, only an existence.

There was one child on the bus, he seemed to be upset. More often than not he would return to his seat and fall asleep.

I’m not sure why they never admitted to anything, or stood by anything. But the passengers were on the bus and they had got on the bus and it just kept going. I don’t know if they cared. I think they didn’t.

On Consumerism

A discussion I’ve had time and time again with friends and family is one regarding consumerism. We usually discuss politics and collapse (in that order) until the early hours and eventually one person usually states something along the lines of,

“Well yeah, but the root of all this is the mindless consumerism! That’s what we need to stop!”

A statement which used to frustrate me, largely due to the fact there was lack of shared coherent definition regarding what ‘consumerism’ means. See, I figure that most people who are critical of consumerism see it as external to themselves, something which they don’t do and is only a problem for the dumb masses. I used to agree with such a definition, for it takes quite the stomach to admit that one might have traits of the sheep in their nerves.

This typical definition of consumerism is a general critique of mindless behavior as opposed to an exposition on the meaning itself. Consumerism in the stereotypical sense means someone who wants/desires the latest car, flatscreen-TV, Marvel Movie etc. Basically someone who is entirely caught up in the spectacle of consumption and wishes to have the latest purchasable piece of the spectable, as to prove that they are indeed in-on-it, they are in-the-know and are ultimately, normal and worthy of popularity, status and attention. I see this definition as basically wrong, in fact, it’s not only wrong, it’s extremely misleading.

The above definition is more like the worst parts of the whole, the most extreme example of consumerism. And as prevalent and obvious as that part of the definition is, it’s only the glaring top layer of the consumerist cake. In fact, I’d argue it’s the layer that almost needs to stay alive for consumerism to continue flourishing. We’ve all read or seen Fight Club, ‘you are the shit you buy’ etc etc. blah blah, misreadings all over the place, angsty morons begin lobbing their half-baked anti-I-don’t-even-fucking-know ideology about the place and generally using the pithy pseudo-ideology of an OK novel to legitimize their own bullshit. This of course implies that there’s a whole other level of consumerism going on, one which most people really…really don’t want to admit to, at least those who are supposedly critical of consumerism at large.

It’s easy to be critical of those buying the latest sports car, the latest TV, the biggest house etc. of consumerism, because, well, the things they’ve purchased are so large, garish and obvious that one cannot help to project their own insecurities into phrases such as “Compensating for something?”, “I just think people should live within their means.” and “Urgh, his/her life must be so empty.” Shut up. You’d have bought the same empty shit if you had the money or the chance. How do I know this? Because within your current ‘means’ you continue to buy the bullshit you can now! Every year or two you buy a new iPhone because, well…it came out – your old phone was fine of course, you just kinda…wanted the new one. You buy designer clothes even though you have perfectly fine clothes at home, you buy new editions of books because they’ll look nicer on your shelves, you – like 82% of the country (UK) – bought your ugly new car on finance, you just got new sofas because you changed your colour-scheme, you of course had to try that new sauce/meal/burger/wrap/drink from [insert food chain here]. The list goes on and on and fucking on! You are not outside of consumerism, you are so totally within it that you exist solely on hypocrisies at this point.

Thus far one could quite easily mistake the overarching idea of consumerism which I’m writing about here as simply a material ‘ism’. And that which we consume is only material, things and/or items etc. This is, once again, completely incorrect. The items of consumerism are secondary. Secondary to an idea. A shit, vacant, idiotic idea. The idea itself can’t be encapsulated by one phrase or statement because it subsumes lots of other socio-parameters into it. Status, normalcy, popularity, anxiety, paranoia, cultural-capital, to name just a few, are the fuel for this idea. The idea is of course simply consumption as means and meaning, but it’s so absolutely unconscious that – as I have stated – even those who attest to hate it, understand how it works or who are virulently against it continue to fall prey to its allure.

The problem is – as opposed to creation, mutation, differentiation and communication – consumption is very easy. So easy in fact we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Let me ask you this dear reader, is your personality merely a culmination of your vices?

Are you an end-product of compounding material desires, ideological consumption and identity traits into a ‘being’?

Almost everything falls into the realm of consumption and it takes quite the alteration in perspective to remove yourself from the realm, so that your acts become somewhat ‘authentic’ (though I don’t want to venture into that avenue) or at least taken self-knowingly.

Remember when you were a child and you and your buddies stayed up late and watched some action-packed war film? The next day you went off the woods and pretended sticks were guns and rocks were grenades, you consumed the media and let it infect your identities – hey, at least when children do this is completely transparent. Hey, Brits, remember when Skins first came out and almost every other moron at school began to morph their personalities around those idiotic self-serving characters? Well I do, it was less transparent, but still a clear example of consumption at large.

After your teenage years I guess it becomes, at least for the masses, a little more tricky. See, the education system and the state – the two teats adults suck on for security of both an individual and collective kind – teach very little (if anything) about that which is external to consumption. Your classes at school were all formed in a manner of consumption – consume data to prove X, you consume various bits of state red-tape to be able to form your life and then continue to discuss said consumption in such a way that it fills your day and makes you seem real and connected to the norm.

“Fucking tax man took a bite out of my paycheck!”

“Got this weird housing letter about my rent…”

“I hope I pass X-exam, I’ve studied hard'”

There’s nothing in any of this, it’s the filler conversation which makes up 99% of life – unless you make the decision to exit from those people and places, which is relatively easy…but perhaps you just life comfort.

“So Meta, if all adults are is this weird culmination of bits and pieces they’ve consumed, what makes you so special? How can anyone not be some odd creature of consumptive habit?”

Well dear reader, that’s a very astute question, thank you for asking. When I write these posts I generally think that I come across as a condescending arsehole, I don’t massively care. Those who’ve I’ve offended are offended solely because of resentment, and wish their comforts had not been questioned. Those who are angry now, but willing to look inward will be thankful later.

#Anyway, the question at large I guess is this, ‘How can you not be a consumer?’ I mean, everyone consumes at a fundamental level don’t they? Water, food and shelter are things we need and so we consume them, the key point of argument then is the difference between a need and a want, or in French, between a need and a desire. You need shelter, water and food. You don’t need a new TV, a fancy car and brand name clothes. All of these are simply lifestyles being sold to you, visions of a future wherein you have higher status, greater popularity and more people life you. Look at that guy in the prototype Audi A333, wrapped in 30 layers of Ralph Lauren with a TV implant in his head, he is cool…he is alpha. For a good novel on this absurd form of consumerism I recommend James Palumbo’s TOMAS.

Anyway, the reason everyone consumes, and no one is immune from the consumerist lifestyle is that pretty much everyone is, at least in some way, weak. I’m weak to books, especially esoteric and obscure books, I consume then like a rabid animal. In a certain sense I’ve bought into some ideal there and am beginning to move from it. If this is the case then consumerism at large, in definition, is largely defined by the reasons why someone is purchasing something as opposed to act of consumption in itself. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying McDonalds or organic, fairtrade, homegrown, vegan, non-GMO, gluten free jam, it’s the reason you’re buying them. You’re probably buying the formed because some remnant of a heartfelt kitsch McDonald’s advert is lodged in the back of your mind and you suddenly just ‘fancied’ a burger, think on your actions for more than a second and you will immediately stop consuming as much, the latter however might be bought out of sincerity, but it also might be bought out of virtue. Hell, a lot of that kind of vegan, wholefoody stuff must be bought out of virtue alone…’cus it tastes like shit.

Strangely, this is were my now not-so-recent flirtation with Occultism come in handy. (With that said, I think continued reading, research and practice of Occultism means it’s no longer a flirtation and something more…) See, in my Greer interview he notes of the animatronic Santa Claus figures you get at Christmas. You know the ones, you press the button, he dances and sings a tune, the family laughs for 2 seconds, it gets thrown out in a few months. The point is if people actually thought about their purchase decisions for more than a nano-second entire industries wouldn’t even exist. Consumerism in its entire is a demonic force that preys on passivity and apathy. You’re not thinking, you don’t care and you’re hardly even mentally awake, and that’s why you feel alienated and empty, you’re simply the crass compound human-butter made solely of vapid desires and parasitic dreams. In short, you’re an unthinking idiot.

Want to get ‘out’ of consumerism and edge a little closer towards authenticity and a more content, fulfilling being, it’s quite simple, practice meditation. Specifically discursive meditation:

“To get the best results, discursive meditation requires the same sort of preliminaries that the more familiar forms of meditation do. The standard advice among old-fashioned occultists was to sit in a chair with your spine comfortably straight, not leaning against the back; your feet are flat on the floor; your legs are parallel to each other, and bent at a right angle; your hands rest on your thighs close to your knees, and your elbows are at your sides. Every muscle you don’t need to use to stay upright is as relaxed as you can get it. Having assumed the position and deliberately relaxed the muscles just mentioned, you breathe slowly and deeply for several minutes, paying attention to the inflow and outflow of the breath, and turn your mind away from every topic of thought except the theme of your meditation.” – Foundations of Magical Practice: Meditation

I practice (though not as routinely as I’d like) 2 forms of discursive meditation. Firstly the one above which I practice prior to bed for 15 minutes, or until the question has been answered and dissolves. I also practice a form of questioning/discursive meditation with a friend – this is a personal invention, but great for quick problem solving. Find a friend in whom you can trust to tell the depths of your soul. Your question or predicament may be serious or harmless etc. Have them question you after every answer.

“I think I need a new job.”

“Why?”

“This one isn’t fulfilling.”

“Why?”

“The work doesn’t suit me.”

“What is it about the work?”

“It’s dull, meaningless.”

“What work do you think would have meaning for you?”

You get the picture, anyway, I find both of these forms of ‘meditation’ extremely useful in day to day life.

And so you want to exit consumerism, perform a discursive meditation either on a consumptive habit that is frustrating you (Netflix, smoking etc.) or on your consumptive habits in general, note the results, reflect on the initial problem and the answer that helps you find some peace with it. Often the two would have be very difficult to connect.

The Unintelligible and Re-enchanting Existence

Our Earth is big, but it can be traversed by industrialized methods of travel. Our galaxy is annoyingly big and has only been traversed by abstract scientific concepts largely relating to light. Our universe is quite simply, frustratingly big. Too large to ponder for too long, to do is to put oneself in a trance like no other. Even to lean one’s face into your hand and stare at the sky brings forth a feeling of wonder, horror and awe. This is a form of enchantment that is necessary for man. It is also a form of enchantment that since the late 19th century has been almost entirely lost, at least within everyday life. Why is this? Well, space, galaxies and the universe as whole are not of our primary design and construction, and industrialization and the arrival of runaway-techno-capital subtly taught us that those ideas and things of which we are not in primary relation to are, for lack of real reason, not of our concern. There are those who are concerned with these things of course, thinkers, engineers, scientists, but they usually interrogate it in a way of intelligibility which I feel is a grave error to make. What makes life worth living is not conclusions, or ends, nor completion or constructed merit, no. What makes life consistently, deliriously sublime is the unintelligible, that which we cannot grasp. Of course, the horror is found in the screaming between what we know we do not know. (Levinas’ il y a, is fantastic on this.)

To think on this unintelligibility is to be enchanted by life itself. The problem herein is that modern humans direct their attention to that which is primary to their perspective. We fully understand the spheres we exist within. We roughly understand how cars work, how we get to work, what lunchtime means, why we may watch TV shows, what it means to have status etc. To cut a long story short we only understand that which is already fully constructed, we can only ever understand completeness. And all out bubbles and socio-cultural spheres are pretty much complete, they are of the same. In fact, the reason people are so averse to leaving their spheres of comfort is that they fear difference. The eternal return of the same – in its most banal reading – is the soft pillow of disenchanted man. A man who has fully accepted. Not accepted X or Y, no. A person who has simply accepted, accepted it all. It is, for them, done. And now they simply just continue down the routes of the same which are open for them, routes which in their very nature as the same are no different to any other route. One cannot find difference in that which they can already attend. It comes from elsewhere, from possessions, communions, enchantment, deliriums, bemusement, fevers, from the weird and the strange.

“The most beautiful and most profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.” – Einstein

It’s a slight shame that Einstein had to insert ‘science’ into that quote, it sort of throws it out of joint, pertains to the idea of  an overarching ‘theme’. But it covers the idea I’m writing about here nicely.

You’re more than likely caught up in something or other. Some domestic with your partner, a financial problem, an intellectual pursuit, some form of construction or conclusion that you’re aiming yourself at. Your own little temporal pathway which has an end, a end which in the grand scheme of things is always false. Have you ever felt satisfied? If you think of that question – if you’re anything like me – you realize that none of the material, societal or cultural pressures which you attended to and concluded ever culminated into any form of actual conclusion. They always drag on into some haphazard, drawn out affair regarding status, worth or value, and almost always end only in fatigue or submission.

We have forgotten how to be enchanted. Something which arguably should be a priori to our existence. I’m idling close to the pitfalls of extrapolating some deep-seated depersonalization here, but perhaps we all need to fragment our minds from time to time. Maybe people don’t stand in the mirror as long as me, and no, it’s not because I’m staring at myself, it’s because it doesn’t, never really has, and hopefully never will…make sense. This whole ‘living’ thing, when you get right down to it, is fucking weird. To forget enchantment is to forget the inherent weirdness and peculiarity of existence itself. Tying into my previous post regarding office work, it used to infuriate me that people could exist in such a sullen and dead manner, acting in such a way as if this is how it is and it’s never to be any other way, and that outside of their labour, and actions of flesh, is not wonder, but nothing. I say used to because now I’m apathetic to those who still so caged in. I will spend time messaging and chatting to those who wish to about how or why to become unplugged and re-enchant oneself, but ultimately you can drag a boring horse before the crab nebula and it will still moan its hooves hurt. Basically a large percentage of the populous miss the moon because they’re too busy looking at the hand pointing at it.

It’s easy to retreat, in fact it’s so easy that is has become our default setting. Someone pointed out something very strange that is put upon us at a young age. ‘Keep your head down!’. That’s what we say to children who are idly gazing upwards at the clouds, sky, birds or rafters of a large building. We instantly put a stop to their enchantment, but we not only stop it, we shame it. It has become a shameful act to mention that one feels a little uneasy at existing. Not in any angsty way. Don’t worry, when I’m assembling a door-frame I’m not shaking and holding onto the floor, but I am often thinking how odd it all is.

To lean into this feeling is to put yourself more and more at ease each day. This is one of the methods I routinely use to ‘exit’ myself from modernity and from that which I never needed/wanted in the first place. To buy, want, desire or buy-into various facets of life is usually because you wish to escape from this feeling, you cannot handle being and you cannot handle being enchanted. Human affairs – other than those you must take responsibility for (Health, family, friends.) should be secondary worries. You can watch that film tomorrow or not at all, you could visit that place another time, you may or may not do that thing, that cursed thing which is all jagged, striated and finished. Completion is the enemy of enchantment. I believe this is why more and more people in make-work jobs are beginning to feel alienated, lonely and depressed. These jobs are getting further and further away from enchanting existence. They are creating bubbles within bubbles, constraints within constraints, to add another lock onto the cage in hope that it will be the one which will make the boredom of the cage disappear.

One of my more controversial opinions is that I’m in agreement with R.D. Laing regarding depression. Give this a watch, but I’ll write out Laing’s speech here:

“It’s not necessarily a good idea if you’re in prison, in a dungeon, and the door happens to be open, to adopt the policy that ‘I’m not going to walk out of this state of affairs unless I discover how I got into it.’

Now understandably depression is a complex issue and I wont get into here, and wish to utilize Laing’s point to articulate my thoughts regarding enchantment. See, much like Laing’s ‘dungeon’ in the linked video, much of our neuroses and depressive pessimism regarding life is of our construction and is itself related to further constructions which pull us to and fro, and as Laing states, you’re more than welcome to exit that dungeon. You don’t need to know how you got there, who or what put you there or why it even exists…fuck the dungeon. The dungeon or more aptly prison is in this case the existence of dis-enchantment. Life feels dry, heavy, a little dead all the time and you keep wondering why, you don’t really anything, or dwell on that which isn’t dry or heavy, you just sit in that dungeon and repeat to yourself that life has become boring. “Same shit, different day.” you say to yourself. Well, I’ve got news for you. If you re-enchant life, then that statement will quite quickly be reversed “Different shit, same day.”. Your place of work, your commute, your home, your hobbies, when inspected on an ontological, philosophical or mystical level become wondrous activities.

You’re mowing the lawn. You focus on the grass, the green seems brighter today. it’s as if the birdsong is poetic, rhythmic regarding the swell of the day. The breeze hits cobwebs on your shed, you notice the spider making repairs. Everything is flowing and you were letting all this pass-by. Before the ‘boredom’ of the prison would have been momentarily satiated with modernity’s latest trinket, but now, you just look around and relax into the awe and horror of being itself and think of beauty.