Order, the organizing idea and self-mastery

This is one of quite a few posts I intended to write much earlier, but got sidetracked by my coursework. If my post from the beginning of September is any indiciation, I did say this was going to happen. Still, I’ve managed to put this together, and there’s something I have planned for Wednesday as well – I think you know why if you’ve followed me for long enough. Anyway, here’s the post.

Recently I watched a 3-part video series on the 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and gained a few insights that seemed particularly useful and relevant to me. Since then I gained an interest in the book itself, and for this post I want to go through two specific laws that hit right home when I was first paying attention, alongside some other ideas that I became aware of with time.

One such law is the law of planning all the way to the end.

Law 29
Plan All the Way to the End
The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible
consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the
glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you
will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far
ahead.

The point of this law is straightforward: think of the outcome you want to achieve, and pay attention every possible outcome looming in the horizon so that you can outmaneuver them. Honestly, I feel like this is part of the point of me constantly being taught about planning ahead in game design at university: there is no game project without a plan underlying it. Otherwise, the project becomes consumed by a multiplicity of setbacks, some late ideas that people try to add on and a lot of stress due to the fact that you’d inevitably be forced to improvise all the way to the last minute, resulting in a shitty game that no one would want to play.

Greene gives a very good reason for this law in the book:

Most men are ruled by the heart, not the head. Their plans are vague, and when they meet obstacles they improvise. But improvisation will only bring you as far as the next crisis, and is never a substitute for thinking several steps ahead and planning to the end.

And I think that’s generally true: people are mostly ruled by emotions. In a way, nearly all of us are to some extent. It’s why lots of people get drawn into mass outrage over small things, because it pokes at specific emotions. It’s also a major reason why humans have a proclivity towards the consumption of false hopes, because the fantasy provides solace.

What struck me is the analogy to the Greek gods found in the book, which goes as follows:

According to the cosmology of the ancient Greeks, the gods were thought to have complete vision into the future. They saw everything to come, right down to the intricate details. Men, on the other hand, were seen as victims of fate, trapped in the moment and their emotions, unable to see beyond imminent dangers. Those heroes, such as Odysseus, who were able to look beyond the present and plan several steps ahead, seemed to defy fate, to approximate the gods in their ability to determine the future. The comparison is still valid – those among us who think further ahead and patiently bring their plans to fruition seem to have a godlike power. Because most people are too imprisoned in the moment to plan with this kind of foresight, the ability to ignore immediate dangers and pleasures translates into power. It is the power of being able to overcome the natural human tendency to react to things as they happen, and instead to train oneself to step back, imagining the larger things taking shape beyond one’s immediate vision. Most people think that they are in fact aware of the future, that they are planning and thinking ahead. They are usually deluded: what they are really doing is succumbing to their desires, to what they want the future to be. Their plans are vague, based on imaginations rather than reality. They may believe that they are thinking all the way to the end, but they are really focusing only on the happy ending, and deluding themselves by the strength of their desire.

I should probably read more Hellenic literature, so as to study this phenomenon further whenever I get the chance. Beyond that, I see a way of relating to the Left Hand Path. To be godlike is to have complete control, or as close an approximation as possible, of your own destiny. It’s not hard to recognize that you are not going to be in control of anything if you consistently allow yourself to be ruled by the present moment, the changing seasons of the day, and your emotions. You certainly won’t be in control of your own destiny if you can’t plan it out. You will either remain a limited creature, subject to the whims of “fate”, or you will surpass that through your capacity to sit back, observe the circumstances and be able to maneuver them and approximate wisdom of the gods in Olympus. I’m sure the analogy is understood.

Scene from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) in which the gods watch Jason from Mount Olympus.

And speaking of divine analogies, we see another in the introduction to the book…

Related to mastering your emotions is the ability to distance yourself from the present moment and think objectively about the present moment. Like Janus, the double-faced Roman deity and guardian of all gates and doorways, you must be able to look in both directions at once, the better to handle danger from wherever it comes. Such is the face you must create for yourself – one face looking continuously towards the future and the other to the past.

In other words, eat shit people who relentlessly quote Siddhartha Gautama about living in the moment to justify some air-headed and carefree view of the world!

I jest (well, mostly), but the point is easy enough to grasp: if you want to control your own destiny, and control your own emotions, step outside of the moment and look at it from that position, with objectivity. Much as a deity might step outside of his or her creation, looking down upon its inhabitants and observing things as they are, assuming we’re dealing with a rational deity of course.

The other law I want to talk about is the law of concentrating your forces.

Law 23
Concentrate Your Forces
Conserve your forces and energies by keeping them concentrated at their strongest point. You gain more by finding a rich mine and mining it deeper, than by flitting from one shallow mine to another—intensity defeats extensity every time. When looking for sources of power to elevate you, find the one key patron, the fat cow who will give you milk for a long time to come.

Various websites offer the following interpretation of this law, which I can’t seem to find in the book itself:

Are you in a state of total distraction and diffusion, hardly able to keep your mind in one direction before you are pulled in a thousand others? The modern world’s level of conflict is higher than ever and you internalize it in your life.

The solution is a form of retreat inside yourself to the past, to more concentrated forms of thought and action.

1. Single-mindedness of purpose.
2. Total concentration on the goal.
3. Then use these qualities against people less focused.

Such an arrow will find its mark every time and overwhelm the enemy. This is what happened to ancient Athens, which lusted for the faraway island of Sicily and ended up losing its empire. The Romans stretched the boundaries of their empire to encompass vast territories; in doing so they increased their vulnerability, and the chances of invasion from yet another barbarian tribe. Their useless expansion led their empire into oblivion.

The text in question is related to the book, specifically page 174, where it talks of how the modern world is more divided than ever, in terms of individuals, families and political groups, there is more social conflict than before, and that this external state of things is internalized by humans resulting in a constantly distracted state of mind for the majority of the population. Keep in mind, the book was written during the mid-1990’s and published in 1998, but if you look at the modern world of 2017 I think you will find that not much has changed from his day except for the fact that social media is now an all-encompassing aspect of life, which can only entail more distraction for many people. If anything, it kind of feels like the conflict and division in the modern world has been getting worse, or at least that’s the case in America which is now more polarized than ever, but even here in the UK I think we are starting to become polarized in the same way as the Americans.

But going back to the point, I’ve often felt like I get distracted a lot. I do my coursework, and sometimes find myself staring at the screen before promptly eyeing another stimulation. It’s something that I struggle with throughout. I’ve written a schedule to try and order things, and I think I keep to for the most part but I suspect that I sometimes flout it unintentionally. I also sometimes feel like I have multiple ideas for what I want to do with myself and take a long time to settle on just one goal. A good example is with my guitar. I have thought about actually making music with it at some point in the future, and the reality of career expectations notwithstanding I have envisioned a few directions for my style to go in (all of them some form of metal though, let’s be fair) and I have yet to pick one over the other. Sometimes, I find myself to be pretty all over the place in many aspects, having a lot of things I want to do and not focusing on one thing nearly enough.

When I heard that law, for some reason I thought of an idea that I came across earlier from Friedrich Nietzsche which is referred to as “the organizing idea”, which seems to be traced to the book Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is, which incidentally was the last book he wrote in the years leading up to his fall from sanity.

Meanwhile, the organizing idea that is destined to rule keeps growing deep down – it begins to command, slowly it leads us back from side roads and wrong roads; it prepares single qualities and fitnesses that will one day prove to be indispensable as a means toward a whole – one by one, it trains all subservient capacities before giving any hint of the dominant task, “goal,” “aim,” or “meaning.”

This idea was apparently something that he proposed as a way coordinating and ordering an entire multiplicitous structure of desires, drives and forces within the psyche or self: one overriding drive or ideation to rule as lord of the psyche, to grant the individual the ability to live his or her life with single-minded devotion towards a source of meaning in that life. This idea is said either to be attained through self-creation, the fashioning of an ordered, harmonious and unitary self out of the multiple elements of the self in the sculptor’s vein, or discovered over the course of the individual’s life, revealing itself to the individual at points, leaving the individual to seek out the organizing idea. I wonder if Luciferians relate this to the concept of the True Will, in reference to the Azal’ucel or the Holy Guardian Angel in Michael W. Ford’s work, in which case the True Will would be the organizing idea that the individual has to seek out, attain an understanding of or transform into in order to organize the self. On a slight tangent, Ford’s Luciferianism can be seen as pursuing essentially the kind of the journey that Nietzsche advocated – to descend into the depths, to bore the foundations, in order to explore the psyche in a journey true self-knowledge – and for Ford this journey is largely undertaken either through bare bones self-exploration or through the pursuit of occultism.

I thought of the organizing idea as something to concentrate forces behind, often in a personal and spiritual sense. A guiding force at the center of a life path, your activity. I don’t know if it’s apt, but I think it’s an approach worth thinking about.

So why did I talk about these ideas? Well, because they convince me more than ever of the value of an internalized sense of order, and of structure. They show me these things as paths to power, strength, wisdom, self-direction and the enlightenment of the Left Hand Path. Together it gives me a really good crystallization of the path I would take: not to join the kingdom of light, but to rule a kingdom of shadows, the dark kingdom of the soul. To step back, see with a detached set of eyes and take control of one’s fate through the human capacity to order the world around him. To transcend one’s own limitations. That last part is also important for the following reason: increasingly I find myself more and more aware of the fact that most humans are limited creatures: most of us favor group-think to some extent, most of us think we are rational when really, while not totally ignorant, we are only partly rational and often subject to delusion and ignorance, most of us are weak in the sense that we give into emotions such as fear with ease, and most of us are not capable of facing the darkness. Rare is the man who wants to make the journey to the underworld.

Shiva and his host of chthonic, “demonic” attendants (the ganas and bhutas).

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2 responses to “Order, the organizing idea and self-mastery

    • Since I forgot to put links, let me just put the videos here for reference, so anyone reading can check them out.

      Hagbard Celine’s introduction to the 48 Laws of Power:

      Part 1 of him reading the actual laws (1-24):

      Part 2 of him reading the laws (25-48):

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