Repost: Occam and Me on JFK and 9/11

(My first piece ever at that grand old group blog The Mitrailleuse, November 2014. With an intellectual background like the one below, no wonder I wrote a novel titled Sanity…)

The first reference to Occam’s Razor I ever saw, age 12, was in Robert Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel, which sent me to the encyclopedia (and yes, I’m that old), because who could read the mysterious words “Occam’s Razor” and not be dying to know what it was?

I began reading about the assassination of President  Kennedy when I was 14, my interest sparked by Josiah Thompson‘s book Six Seconds in Dallas, which I found through the proven technique of a random walk through the public library stacks, scanning spines for anything that caught my eye and grabbing it. Who knows why or how these fascinations begin, but by the time I finished Thompson’s well-written and reasonable book I was hooked, leaning toward the “second gun” theory, and on the prowl for more of the seemingly endless supply of fact (and especially, fancy) on the events of November 22, 1963. Continue reading

(I’m republishing some essays that first appeared in The Mitrailleuse several years ago–this one from January, 2016. It’s funny that at that time I was working up a non-fiction book titled “Sanity.” Two years later I published the novel, Sanity. Some things work better as fiction.

I’d just gotten into Scott Adams’s work outside of Dilbert in October 2015. I liked his work very much, thought some of it was genius, but his insistence that Trump would be the President seemed preposterous. At the time…)

It’s interesting that before he became the first human to die live on the Web, Tim Leary changed his tune (and the title of one of his books) from Exo-Psychology to Info-Psychology.

Leary acknowledged that his one-time obsession with space exploration and the future of humanity off-planet was at least partly the result of his time in jail in the 1960s and 70s and the natural tendency of the mind to want to free itself by flying high above the prison grounds. For an old dude, he seems to have rapidly grasped the possibilities of the Web and some of the changes to our lives that digital world would bring. He apparently continued to consume plenty of drugs up until the end. The funny thing, to me, is that there’s no indication that in all his years of psychonauting he ever deeply explored the free, easily available and abundant resource that’s provided to us every night: The Dreamscape.

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In the month or so I’ve been away from most web activity I spent two weeks on a family vacation and all my spare time studying Self-Directed NeuroplasticityLucid Dreaming, and Scott Adams on persuasion and hypnosis. I’m working on my own book, that was working-titled Sanity but is now Essays on Sanity because it’s not going to be that big. Since it is going to be a lot more weighty than the typical 96-page Amazon self-published special, I expect to finish with it in April.

Don’t worry, when it’s available I’ll be going around to flog it mercilessly, so you won’t miss out.

My personal strength (or shtick) is really synthesis, not deep and original thought; so here are a few connections amongst the above smattering of subjects. It appears, looking at the people around me every day and the people I read about in the papers, that most not only don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing; most of the time they aren’t really conscious, by McPhee’s definition in his lucid dreaming book. They’re not seeing that they’re seeing, hearing that they’re hearing. Most of all, they don’t know that they know. And by sleeping through their dreams and not remembering anything of them, they’re missing the best chance to be in contact with the unconscious part and get a glimpse of what’s really going on in the (90 percent?) of themselves that they’re not consciously aware of.

You Are Not Your Brain, which I began reading first, emphasizes the same principal, differently. The constant stream of “thoughts” that most of us experience, most of the time, are not you, that is, not your consciousness. You need not controlled by them, nor by the bodily sensations that they drive and that can drive you to take various, ineffective and even harmful measures to alleviate. Instead, it’s possible to refocus and redirect when we have these uncomfortable sensations, and eventually consciously rewire the brain (Self-Directed Neuroplasticity) so that we feel them less and they drive us less.

I started reading Scott Adams’ blog just a few weeks ago; people are starting to notice that he was one of the few who stated, back in August, that Donald Trump would win the general election, because Trump is a “Master Persuader.”

Scott is also a trained hypnotist of the Ericksonian school, which once again is coming at the same Big Idea, from a different angle: Are you running your brain, or are you just a herd animal full of Mind Parasites planted by Mommy, your first grade teacher Ms. Progressive, and your very expensive education at Uni? Are you a Persuader, or Persuaded? We’re all both, of course, but it’s nice to know what’s happening rather than being pulled about like a sleepwalker.

Ever driven down the highway for several minutes thinking about “stuff,” internally focused, and “woke up” to find you can’t remember the last five miles? That’s hypnosis baby, as much or more as some guy on stage in Vegas getting people to take off their clothes. No, definitely MORE.

Sanity is soundness. Sanity is more time being conscious and being more in touch with your unconscious. Sanity is being awake when you’re awake and more aware of valuable experiences when you’re asleep.

None of this, on the surface, may seem to be related to my interest in Neoreaction or to “politics” as such, but as one dives into this material, one realizes.

There’s a hell of a lot more to “becoming worthy” than lifting.

Review: [Think] Like a Mind Reader by Jonathan Pritchard

[Think] Like a Mind Reader by Jonathan Pritchard (2017, paperback only)

A while back a smart friend and I were discussing the characteristics of a good self-help or self-improvement book. There’s a limited amount of “new” information that can be transmitted by now, mostly based on “new” scientific studies, which nearly always confirm the basic premises first espoused by Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, or…Aristotle. So to be good, to be really useful, a book needs a new synthesis. By coming at, combining, mostly old, sound materials in a new way, a way that stimulates action, a book can make itself valuable.

Jonathan Pritchard has succeeded in making [Think] Like a Mind Reader a valuable book. His new approach is coming at it as a “mind reader,” a mentalist. In practice, he was able to take his skills beyond the his stage show (though he still does that) and leverage them into a consulting business and corporate training.

His new synthesis here isn’t about mind reading techniques. It’s about deepening understanding of thought, and our understanding of limits. Most of the limits there are, we place upon ourselves. As he points out in the introduction, after a childhood of strictures and “no-nos” and being taught to suppress our “badness,”  “[W]e learn there are thoughts we are not allowed to think.”

As I went through the first few sections of the book, I was nodding in agreement, but also, for an old dog like me, there was a certain familiarity–enthusiasm, interest, positive thinking, logic…but gradually, I sensed a fresh approach. There is some “mind reading” technique material, but more than anything mind reading takes focus, an intense awareness of the moment. Thinking like a mind reader takes, first, desire, a giving of oneself rather than an “extraction” of information.

This is what the author brings to the table that’s different than most. There are a lot of great self-improvement books available. I’ve studied many of them, and even taken action on some of their ideas. Anthony Robbins’s Unlimited Power was one that I picked up at the right time in my life, for the right reasons, that made a big difference. Strangely enough, the actions have produced the results.

[Think] Like a Mind Reader is a book that can make a difference. If you’re a younger person with less experience there may be a lot that’s new here, but anyone of any age may find a gem in the book that makes a difference in their life. The material is presented in a breezy, entertaining style that should hold your interest, anyway.

I first encountered Jonathan Pritchard on Twitter (the_pritchard). That platform has introduced me to many fascinating people and their books and writings. Now I’m looking at Pritchard’s book on Wing Chun Kung Fu and thinking about trying it out.

“The Mechanism”: An excerpt from Reality, the Novel

Reality

Scene 33

The ReHumanist Manifesto. October, 1975. For Private Circulation Only.

 Page 34

 The Mechanism

 Men have not always needed to know how a thing worked for them to use it to their advantage. Henry’s archers at Agincourt devastated the French nobility without any knowledge of the “Law” of Gravity or the equations Newton produced 260 years later, though their arrows’ paths were precisely “determined” by those laws, in a manner of speaking. Electricity was supremely important and useful before the discovery of the electron, as was fire before the understanding of oxidation.

In the 1930s much of the world, and most especially some of my colleagues in the science fiction field, were intrigued by the research done at Duke University into “parapsychology,” led by Dr. Joseph Banks Rhine. Dr.  Rhine claimed to have demonstrated “extrasensory perception” (ESP) through a long series of laboratory trials that found certain people who could seemingly “see” hidden cards through a kind of “mind power.” After a few years of extensive use of ESP in the science fiction pulps, it gradually became clear that Rhine’s results were not replicating in experiments by others, and interest began to fade, though the idea cropped up again with regularity—ESP might or might not work in our world, but did in this or that fictional world.

This is the point of fiction.

Among the so-called “general public” there was always, and continues to be, a majority belief in the “supernatural.” This muddy category might include the aforementioned ESP, ghosts, precognition, the Transubstantiation, spirit mediumship (something that Rhine got his start debunking), “UFOs” (in all their permutations), etc., etc., etc. The reader can lengthen the list as necessary for purposes of discussion.

What do all of these things have in common? First, “science” has supposedly “debunked” them, declared them impossible, or at the least failed to replicate them experimentally. “Science” long ago was defined as the study of the material world, of matter, that is, atoms and the Void. That’s why elsewhere in this Work I mock “social science” so mercilessly. At its best, social science is the gathering and analyzing of useful statistical correlates. At its worst, it is propaganda designed to get the masses to do what our Masters want.

And yet: The “power of positive thinking” was known long before Dr. Peale’s excellent book, was commented on by authors from Classical Greece to Victorian Britain. If there is only matter, then thinking is merely the firing of neurons and the allocation of electrochemical energy. So at first psychological “science” sought to debunk such notions as thoughts influencing the physical body—until the experimental results began to debunk the debunkers. Positive thoughts were shown, with merciless statistical precision, to increase the likelihood of long life and health, to predict success in work and at school, to assist in victory in athletic competition—in short, the power of positive thinking was scientific!

And of course, this challenge to materialism was met by conjuring up…more materialism! Because there must be a material mechanism to explain all results, all phenomena, all Reality. The reason this must be so is that science has deliberately excluded everything else. Positive thinking must be understood to change hormone levels, blood chemistry, the activity of the parts of the brain that react to stress, or something of this sort.

This was mere papering over of a tremendous void, of course.

Let us consider a man suffering from intense sadness (“depression”) because he’s stranded, alone, on an isolated island. We would all agree, superficially, that he has a right to be sad, given the circumstances. Now, let us say he is one day sitting on a rock upon his island, and he sees a tiny spot of something on the rock that is a different color than he’s seen around heretofore, a different and rarer type of lichen, perhaps, and he takes a deep breath and says to himself “I will not give up” and with this thought he begins to feel somewhat better, and the change reminds him that he can change, and he speaks to himself internally: “I Will feel better,” and he begins to do so.

Now one might try and posit a “mechanism” here, something like: “The light waves of a slightly different frequency than his brain had observed for some time were translated in the visual cortex to electrochemical information that propagated through various organs of the brain resulting in a series of chemical changes that he felt as ‘better.’ And this feeling caused another cascade of similar effects that caused a projection of this feeling into the future.”

I submit to you, Dear Reader, that this reads like a fairytale: “One day the boy found some Magic Beans in the garden…and he felt better.”

I will now give you a “scientific” proposition of my own to ponder: All our known sensory organs are made of atoms, and thus the only things they can sense are other atoms that bounce off of them or combine with them to form new chemicals, or electromagnetic radiation that alters their electrons. This is elementary physics and chemistry. If, if there were any other kinds of “substances” in the universe besides atoms and photons and so on, our senses would not be able to detect them, directly.

To be “scientific” in our time is to deny that there is a possibility that there are any of these other substances. This was always my position, from the time I began to think for myself, age 12 or so, the time I read of Eddington’s observational test of General Relativity during the 1919 eclipse. It was my position as I wrote and sold my science fiction stories of the 1930s—ESP was included because it had been shown to work in the laboratory. And when that came into serious doubt I abandoned it. It was my position through the 40s and early 50s, in my novels about space travel and future life on Earth.

And then it came to pass that events changed my mind, not in the theoretical sense of laboratory results, but in “real life.”

And I found there that besides matter and the void, there is indeed a third thing, and that we do have a way to contact it. Our ancient ancestors knew the way, I believe, and Man traded it, in effect abandoned it, for the material technology that allowed him to grow from tens of thousands to billions of individuals in just a few tens of thousands of years. In many ways it was a very good trade for him.

But now I understand that it isn’t gone forever. It can be gotten back.

The Iron Way: A Narrative of Crisis by John Solomon Bain

Some books entertain, and some make you think about something in a new way.

Some resonate, inject the mind with a bit of the truth that you never would have been gifted with, had you not read that book. And this is a very individual thing; a given book might be life-changing for me, but leave you wondering what the fuss is all about.

John Solomon Bain’s The Iron Way: A Narrative of Crisis resonated with me. Before I get into it, it’s important to note that Bain has recently read my book Sanity, and engaged with it at Man With a Purpose. As he said there:

Note: this is not a review. I don’t write reviews. This is a response. I don’t bother writing about books that aren’t worth reading.

I like the way he puts it. This, too, is not a review, but a response.

The Iron Way depicts a man, today, here in Current Year America, a man with the proverbial Wonderful Life. Material abundance, a good and loving wife, children, health. Yet, like many of us (for this is me, too) he has the feeling that:

[T]hings are not quite how they ought to be. But ultimately I am powerless to change the cosmic tide. The world is broken, and has been since the days of our sire. Even in ancient times you had writers like Hesiod who thought he lived in a fallen time, and looked back into the mists of legend and dreamt of a time when mortals lived freely with the gods.

It is a feeling, then, that men have had for a very long time, perhaps since they became men, as such. And yet, with universal literacy and technological change and the “easy life” we know now, the feeling only seems to have gotten stronger. When necessity and duty and tradition were the powerful principles governing human action there was little time for worry about whether things were as they ought be be, except for aristocratic intellectuals who could read and had time on their hands.

We are all, in effect, intellectuals now.

The narrator of The Iron Way “weep[s] for the stupidity of my existence” even as he drives to his beautiful home and his patient, loving wife, or to his professorship at the university, the work that he desired and strove for so many hours and years to obtain. Yet, at work he cannot really be himself, concealing his truths in conversations with politically correct colleagues. When and where can a man “be himself,” now, hunter, warrior, conqueror, killer? Not at university, almost nowhere in our unisex, equality-obsessed society.

But a man can write. There is one place, still, we’re truly, totally free; in our minds and in the words we write. Perhaps those words are not all for publication, but some of us burn to let the words out, and burn to share some of them, the right ones, with the world. The Iron Way is a book of the banality of modernity, of being a man in a feminizing culture, but at the root it’s a book about writing, the agony and the ecstasy of it.

I sit there, staring numbly at the cursor in the blank document for several minutes, My mind keeps wandering to the game I want to play. I wish I was more driven. I feel and overwhelming need to write that haunts me day and night, and has my entire life. I wake up in the middle of the night with fear of things left unwritten.

I feel the Dionysian spirit for a moment. The room begins to fade from consciousness as I write in a state of feverish madness. Time slips away. As I slide into the act of creation, I approach the Real.

The narrator talks elsewhere about his efforts to live the hard life, living in the woods like Thoreau, lifting heavy weights, but the real hard life, and his purpose, is to write.

There have been many good novels that explore the idiocies of modernity, the cancer of feminism, the crisis of “manhood,” but few have explored the writer, the writing life and why we do what we must do, as well as The Iron Way. There are other themes and nuances that I’ve not touched on here, but enough of writing about a man writing about writing. I invite you to read for yourself.

The Women in My Books

A few readers have commented that there are sure a lot “superwomen” in my two books, Sanity and Reality. To me, this is a matter of statistics.

Imagine the best female athlete in your high school that was also big, 5’10 to 6’2 maybe. May have been a volleyball player, track and field, softball. Fast and strong. Depending on how big your school was, she may have been, let’s say, a “1 in 1,000.” She trains some martial art or another, for fun, and by 18 is good, black-belt level as a floor. She also has an IQ 145-150.

Now, she may be “high-T” for testosterone, but maybe not, too. Some women of this description that I have known were more feminine in the facial features than others, with corresponding body fat differentials. But a certain percentage are simply, beautiful women. Of course, the n-value is small. Two of the four or five in my lifetime.

(By the way, the others, the more “masculine,” often have attractive faces and bodies and personalities, as well. It’s all ranges, man).

There are three women that fit this description in my books, (although one is only 5’2). They would probably make it through, say, Army parachute school or male Marine boot camp. I don’t really think they’d make through the SEAL course or Army Ranger school. Such women do exist, and they are perhaps 1 in 100,000 or 1,000,000.

I don’t believe it too far of a stretch to think that such a woman might also have a strong sex drive and enjoy sex a great deal. Or even be a kind of sex magick goddess (the 5’2 one).

Well, okay that last is a stretch too far, but only there did we really veer into fiction. I’ll just say: Maureen Calhoun and Emma (LNU) do exist in the “real world,” embody qualities and actions that I’ve seen and heard and done. These traits were never, perhaps, combined in quite this way, but if not to create unique new beings (“characters”) and have them speak convincingly to each other, what the hell is an author good for?

 

 

A Good Dose of Reality

My novel Reality has been out on Kindle for a week, and I’ll have the print version posted by tonight. I’m happy to note how many people asked for a hard copy.

The book is a “follow-up” to Sanity–not exactly a sequel, but given the fragmented style of the whole enterprise, I’d say it fits together with the first book like one of those puzzles where various odd shaped pieces of wood combine, with some difficulty, to form a sphere.

The background of the ideas that set this whole thing off is here, from April 2018:

Anyway…as described here I read a tweet where someone asked “Who is going to be the Tom Wolfe of the Dark Enlightenment/Red Pill?” and I’ve been searching for it for awhile to give credit where credit is due, but I think I finally figured out why it couldn’t be found, because the account has been suspended. @TitusAvenged RIP:

Just promised to do this. Been preparing for it all my life, or since I found out Mommy was lying when said girls like “nice boys,” anyway. https://t.co/TH5E5Lf1mZ

— neovictorian23 (@neovictorian23) January 25, 2017

So, it took a year to write a little bitty 68,000 word novel. How did it actually get done? I had some memory tickling me, of Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA, A Puzzle in Four Days and 60 Scenes. I’ve always dreamed about writing something in the style of Illuminatus!, a whole book where the time line is shattered and then scattered, over and over (I think a guy named Joyce got there first). So no, I don’t have an outline. I’m going to write 60 scenes and they’re going to be temporally shuffled, and they’re going to be DE/RP and they’re going to be entertaining as hell.

You’ll have to judge for yourself, how it all turned out.

In Praise of the Revolver

(The first in a series: “I’m an old fuddyduddy but I still have a point! Originally published in 2007.)

In choosing a handgun for the home or concealed carry I recommend 120-year-old technology:

1011

The double action revolver.

Advantages vs. the semi-auto pistol:

1) Ease of use–in the gravest extreme, under the most compressed stress you will ever experience, there are no safeties to operate, no adjustments of trigger pull for the second shot (double action auto), just put front sight on center of mass and press trigger.

2) Grips–grips can be customized with ease to a perfect fit, so that when you naturally grasp the piece the front sight goes neither too high or low. Not true of my Glock, or most other semi-autos I’ve handled.

3) Practice–Practice is the most important and most generally neglected part of shooting to save your life. The revolver dry fires in the same way it live fires, so that one can get unlimited free practice in aiming and operation. The semi-auto must be unnaturally cocked during dry fire.

Disadvantages:

1) Ammunition capacity. The semi-auto generally has from one to 10 more shots available without reloading than the five or six in the revolver. Unless you’re defending Fort Apache or The Alamo, this is a factor less than one percent of the time in civilian defense shootings. See 3) above; if your shots hit their target, reloading will hardly ever be needed. Get a couple of speed loaders and practice with them anyway. They take one or two seconds more to reload, with practice, than a semi-auto magazine.

2) Slightly thicker/bulkier than the slimmest semi-auto. Usually amounts to a fraction of an inch. If you carry concealed, it’s a highly individual factor regarding what feels good to you.

By the way, the above image is of a Smith & Wesson, but there are plenty of other fine choices, especially on the used gun market.

Just make sure a gunsmith inspects your used revolver before trusting it with your life. Shoot straight, and have fun!

“Digital Minimalism”: Progress

As previously described I’ve made some changes for the month of March in the use of my phone, social media and the internet overall. It’s working, and the positive effects are already evident.

I refer you again to Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism which I finished a day after I started the process. It wasn’t necessary to get through the whole thing to get started, but the later chapters, based on what to do with the time and mental energy freed by staying off the “smart” phone, were excellent. He expands on the important things many people have lost or lessened lately: solitude, face-to-face conversation, walks, attention to family, even just voice calls instead of all communication being through text. And my favorite, reading.

I’ve already done a lot more reading in the last five days than I had recently, and I can feel an actual difference in my mind and attitude. I’m more focused and just that little bit calmer (I’ve also been going to the gym consistently, so I can’t really isolate the effects of that).

Newport’s digital minimalism is designed to be individualized, given each person’s unique pattern of digital usage. For reference, here are the seven principles or actions that I’m doing now:

  1. Off Twitter until April 1. During the break evaluate how to use Twitter as a tool for making life better; maybe only tweet about books, and/or only original tweets, and a definite time limit (no more spending an hour a day “owning the Progs” with retweets).
  2. Not even looking at the phone until after 8:00 am, and then only to check personal email.
  3. No bullet chess on the internet (an activity that often burned intervals of 15 or 20 minutes playing several games and left me with an increased heart rate and mild adrenal fatigue).
  4. No Drudge Report except between 1200 and 1300 hours, and then only one pass through to check on the developments of the day, and after that let those troubles lie until tomorrow. I realized I don’t really need to know about the latest tweet from Trump or “AOC” or the latest blabber from Adam “Bugeye” Schiff (D-Cloud Cuckoo Land).
  5. No radio when driving (this is more of a concentration exercise based on that grand old book The Power of Concentration but it fits into the program).
  6. Substitutes for the time previously spent looking at the phone: playing music, walking, working out, conversation with family.
  7. No Twitter, news or other distracting websites during work hours. The temptation to take a “break” and visit various “interesting” things was definitely affecting productivity. I’ve cleared a lot of minor, backlog projects that were hanging around and feel better about work, lighter.

To summarize, this digital cleanse procedure is already adding value and making an actual, positive difference in my physiology, which is remarkable. I recommend Cal Newport’s book highly, but you can find much of the information at his blog, which also has a lot of other terrific material for you edification.

I’ll post something here in another week or so and let you know how it’s going.

Restoring My Sanity With a “Digital Cleanse”

I’ve been reading Cal Newport’s new book Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World and he makes a lot of great points about current day life–and our relationship to screens and “social media.”

I well remember writing a brief blog post six or seven years ago making fun of people (especially women) walking around while looking at their phone. I haven’t exactly become that, but close enough, in the sense that I’m spending too much free time, and even some unfree time that is supposed to be dedicated to something else, on Twitter.

I’m not on Instagram and I haven’t used my Facebook for about four years, though it’s still there, but I’ve developed a serious Twitter habit. There are a lot of great people I’ve “met,” on Twitter, so to speak, and I’ll freely admit it gives me immense satisfaction to puncture the illusions and bullshit that Progs and SJWs are constantly spewing. And I’ve justified it as a way to promote my novel Sanity, and the books of my friends.

But what it’s actually become is honestly described as a sort of mild addiction, just as Newport discusses.

So I’m going off of Twitter through the month of March, replacing the hours spent there with more walking, more solitude, more reading and especially more face to face conversation. I’ll be posting this there shortly. If we’re “DM friends” I’ll send you an email to use if you’d like to keep in touch through non-Twitter channels.

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all the socials are engineered by some of the smartest people in the world to grab you attention and keep you clicking as much and as long as possible. They can have their uses, but while I’m away for a month I’ll be evaluating what the actual best uses will be.

Any posts here will be auto tweeted, just in case you think I’m cheating. 🙂