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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

To break the monotony, aphorism 364, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


Even “chaos” travels in circles.  Ironically, it is usually the “lack of a routine” that returns one back to the point of origin.  

The “traveler” has just despaired of boredom.  He blames repetition and cannot reconcile himself to it in any form.  To break the monotony, he flies after the nearest bright stimuli, again and again, and rarely sees that he travels in a circle of avoidance.  He accumulates nothing; he dodges what is required to compound force.  Life becomes, not a momentum toward new adventures, but a series of stultifications, an unceasing friction toward the inevitable collapse of the spirit ... followed by a tremendous, enervating expenditure, if one is to begin everything ... again!  To start and stop ... as a repetition ... what else could be hell? 

But heaven?  Heaven is something different.  Its only flaw is not that it is boring, but that we prefer the sensation of power to power itself.  In a formula: the boredom in heaven belongs only to those who look upon it from the hell of preferring the stimulus to the condition it creates.

Monday, August 29, 2016

a subtler version of vanity, aphorism 193, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


It is indeed a subtler version of vanity when one dominates others by resisting the impulse to display one’s excellence.  Is it the stronger vanity which resists the display so that the stage is left empty during comedy hour and the weaker cannot help but fill it?

Sunday, August 28, 2016

small, regular doses of pain , aphorism 365, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


We can train ourselves for a sudden and inevitable great empowerment with small, regular doses of pain ... to the point of pleasure.  The pain of setting an exercise routine for example ... of tearing muscles or straining the heart daily.

Perhaps this is anticlimactic, but with the framework of Christianity still in place, I feel it necessary to let the reader know I am not speaking of hair shirts, but of the natural reflex against replacing one habit with another ... no matter how advantageous this new habit may be ... and that every advance toward distant, accumulated pleasures and values demands just this sharp, immediate pain of tearing and rebuilding ... followed by a daily, petty maintenance.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

being dunked by the stronger, aphorism 194, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


After being dunked by the stronger, the humiliated can often bob back to the surface by becoming extremely rational.  The drive is dominance, or, which is of the same mechanism, a need to preserve an imagined rank, merited or not.  However, we would misunderstand this example of homeostasis, if the return from the extreme left us with the conclusion that the extreme was the agent.  We might for example mistakenly set up humiliation as a goal, or rite of passage. “Blessed are the meek....”  Or, on the other hand, if our evidence were their push toward our humiliation, we might conclude with “power corrupts” and find tyrants everywhere. 

We would be better off if we were strong enough to resist being dunked in the first place, but even if incapable of withstanding the force, we might struggle and fight our way back to a higher rank by refusing the appeals to “Unmerited Humiliation” and “Corrupting Power” for in all honesty, we know that we are not equipped to settle for fairness once we have the power to enforce it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

the unpleasantness of disillusionment , aphorism 366, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


Acceptance lies in habituating to the unpleasant.  To accept my unconditional death, for example, I only need to affirm my condition for a sufficient length of time.  As with all things, the unpleasantness of disillusionment lessens with repetition.  I then proceed to affirm my life ... to steer it from a stark authenticity to a cycle of increasing value.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

the appeal to Reason, aphorism 195 , The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


When the distance is great, the higher needs the lower and this soon shortens that distance: The superior finds himself in a sudden and desperate danger or is gripped by an ambition too great for himself to achieve alone.  He promises much.  He might even initiate a new familiarity ... a suggestion, if not the promise, of an approach toward equal statusThe danger passes or the ambitious aim fails or succeeds; the superior recants, but the promise remains as a vacuum for the victims to fill with indignant lines of reasoning.  Thus begins an “insubordination” whose result can be the appeal to Reason – for Reason aids the struggle for the past agreement and for that equality proposed by the superior.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

the obstacle, aphorism 367, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


A: Is it more pleasant without the obstacle?

B: Yes, but before I discovered that it was an obstacle, I was content.  There was no inconvenience, and therefore, there was no obstacle.

A: But if it is “better” without the obstacle, wouldn’t it be wise to look for other comfortable, and therefore invisible obstacles everywhere?

Monday, August 15, 2016

this house of horrors, aphorism 196, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


When the distance is small, the lower needs the higher and this soon shortens that distance: The self-righteous often gain an advantage in times of emergency by stepping aside and doing nothing.  Urgency often demands of those in power harsh and speedy measures which cannot be contained within those limits established during times of peace.  The task will get done all the easier if the righteous step aside for the obvious emergency.  

When the danger has passed, the righteous may step forward again with painstaking detail, fearless investigation ... histories and biographies ... prosecutions and artistic depiction.  And thus, after having held the door open, they can condemn all who had to enter this house of horrors.

Friday, August 12, 2016

the backward thinking creature, aphorism 368, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


Unless I see the mind as the backward thinking creature ... unless I see “will” as a look into a mirror ... as merely a conditioned response to stimuli and therefore inverted and late ... then I am more presumptuous than free.

Where “mind” has not yet trained the muscles and nerves, fed the stomach, rearranged the surface, discriminated between stimuli, has not rewritten the history of the man ... where mind is not yet machine, but “soul” ... “operating” somewhere “beyond” the material world ... where all immediate stimuli and past conditioning are scratched out of the equation of an act ... in short, where ‘will’ thinks of itself as captain, there I will find only a deluded stowaway who, upon seeing a reef just ahead, leaps up from below deck and commands the ship to turn away ... by pointing his finger.  Never mind the current of the sea, the inertia of the vessel, never mind the wind, the rudder, the sails, never mind the undisciplined crew, never mind the total subordination of “will” to its own causes ... it seems enough to point the finger.

“Will,” if it even exists at all, is the weakest of the influences upon a man’s destiny; consequently, it must become the most cunning, flattering, knowledgeable stowaway a ship has ever held below deck ... but then one does not ... can not realize this until after ... if!  one has been so lucky as to survive a shipwreck.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

our motivation, aphorism 197, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


What we claim to be our motivation is often incompatible with our motivation as we observe it.  For example, sweetness and high ideals in the journalist do not sell newspapers.  He might however claim them on the page ... and certainly most readers will attest to their interest in, and motivation by, “decency and high ideals.”  However, under observation, decency and ideals are only the shiny plumbing through which something fluid might pass ... something unintentionally vague – unintentional, for if it should harden into a shape that we might identify, we would then have to confess to it as intentional and this would interfere with the easy flow of this substance which must be discharged: our aggression.  

Just as a plumbing system serves the greater hygiene of a city, so might our high ideals serve the greater hygiene of consciousness.  We appear to be especially interested in those high ideals which permit us to look down upon dominating behavior.  And in fact, if there were no outside aggression upon which we might look down, there would remain very little motive for claiming and living up to our highest ideals.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I am the topographical map of my environment, aphorism 369, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


I am the topographical map of my environment ... a slowly changing map.  What repeats, cuts.  What is intense, cuts.  Moreover, I carry the maps of the past into the present.  In fact, I am not looking at maps of two dimensions, but a blending of many maps and many more dimensions than I can number: the five senses, the blood, the heart, the stomach ... to name a few.  My “consciousness,” therefore, is a fusion of past and present influences and impressions ... always a distortion of the current environment.

If I am ever to gain any sort of control over my own development, I must learn how to mold the topography on my own terms ... and the only way I can do this is to manipulate my surface world.  This is no easy task, considering that I can never see this world perfectly.

Because my impressions are multi-layered and ever changing, my first step is to stabilize the surface world: eat well, reduce stimuli, simplify my environment, and get things to repeat to my advantage.  Ultimately, it is through repetition that I begin to finger the topography: selecting what small and light objects come around again.  Gradually, the surface world and I shape each other.

I cannot bring “mind” or “positive thinking” into this.  “Mind” is the backward-thinking machine ... a jumbled memory.  Mind, if reduced to anything at all, is merely that error-making organ, the brain.  Put conceptually, that is to say, as one error describing another, mind is the product of human vanity and fear.  It is the ghost in the machine and as such, it does not exist.  

It can be believed, however ... in the same sense that the audience believes in a magician’s gimmick.  One such useful trick is no longer to posit “mind” as in control ... but to see “mind” as inert clay, spinning on a wheel ... to see the surface world, that immediate, amoral, material world as that which molds the future mind ... from outside.  Thus, mind, to repeat, is not only “inner,” not only “thought,” and certainly not in direct control.  If one has any control at all, it lies in mastering what repeats ... but then one does not need “mind” for that!  Hands are more to the point ... those beautiful instruments which alone can shape the clay.  Here, for once, real progress!  ... and so easy, soft ... life had never been so workable!  But to command the clay to shape itself!  To “think” oneself out of misery ... to discuss ... when a simple ingredient added or removed would be infinitely more beneficial!  As infinite as the distance between something and nothing is infinite!  A glass of water, for example.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

cowardice, aphorism 198, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


When courage is considered the foundation to one’s integrity, one can even bait oneself with the “cowardice” of a cautious regard for probable outcomes, or with the “timidity” of doubt.  That is, one can even bait oneself with the “cowardice” of clear thinking.

Monday, August 8, 2016

How I let go, aphorism 370, A Human Strategy by Matt Berry


How I let go: I pick up something else ... or even better, I have something thrown to me at a key point of the day.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

a poor eye for power, aphorism 199, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


We have a poor eye for power, even in its crudest forms.  In the place of actual power we project our behavioral reaction.  We have no eye for the “mechanisms” or “impulses” but only for the consequent display ... for that which has been triggered and not for that which triggers.  Consequently, we cannot distinguish between power and beauty – that is to say, between mechanics and seduction.  And what could be more seductive and beautiful than the superhero of virtue who represents our promotion from a subordinate status ... the overthrow of the dominant?  Here, the seduction of beauty triumphs over actual power and we dominate vicariously – that is to say, we remain subordinate, subtly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Integrity or Conformity?, aphorism 200, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


Integrity often precludes itself with the question: Integrity or Conformity?  Now one is even tractable to the accusation of one’s “lack of integrity.”  A parallel example might be cowardice-baiting, where person A calls person B a coward unless B reads from precisely that script which A suggests is the one and only role for the performance of courage.  Ironically, B now performs the “courageous” action out of the fear of moral failing or public censure.  Likewise, the man of integrity often whips himself into a public display that is more like conformity than its opposite.  Even as he takes a stand against the “majority view,” the framework behind his boldest and most sincere activism is, “If I do not perform action X, then I cannot imagine my rank among those heroic models who have real integrity.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

This Bait of Falsehood, aphorism 201, The Mechanics of Virtue, Matt Berry


This Bait of Falsehood: Some who display the purest form of integrity are only dealing with the crisis of an irretrievable loss of rank – whether or not that rank had been merely presumed or had been actually inherited through tradition.  This type cannot consciously seek to recover the lost rank without suffering the unbearable humiliation of admitting to the demotion.  Consequently, that which would immediately re-establish the rank (brute force, for example) does not and cannot exist within their equation.  They require a new standard according to which it will be demonstrated that a demotion never occurred.

Their ends are hidden; mechanical means, forbidden.  They now have the only remaining possibility of foisting a new standard ... by which a new identity will dominate ... something which does not really exist however.  Indeed, the identity that does not really exist – yet must exist – creates a crisis for which and by which the higher standard too must exist.  The righteous script plays itself out: “Man was born to be Equal, Just, Nonviolent, and Rational.”