Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Narcissism, Hierarchy and the Machine State

"The Terrible Father is a mythological figure that represents any system of knowing that willfully discards new information when it does not fit with its world view, and obliterates that knowledge from its gaze." - Vagrants Among Us

"Is the machine going to control humanity, or is the machine going to serve humanity? Darth Vader is a man taken over by a machine, he becomes a machine, and the state itself is a machine. There is no humanity in the state. What runs the world is economics and politics, and they have nothing to do with the spiritual life." - Joseph Campbell

There is a lot of silliness in the Manosphere - wannabe-"Alphas" (aka scrawny midgets, terrified of girls, lifting weights and practicing martial arts while living in their parents' basements and jerking off to internet porn) who babble about "the Dark Triad" and the "social-sexual hierarchy." All of it boils down to three things: narcissism, hierarchies and the Machine State.

The commonly-accepted definition of an "Alpha" is an almost clinical definition of a narcissist - and he is an authority on nothing except pretending to be one on everything. The Dark Triad is about narcissism and psychopathy. The strict hierarchy of Alpha to Omega is also narcissistic - Alpha on top (supposedly idealized and admired) while the Omega is on bottom (devalued, despised, scapegoated).

Not surprisingly, mythologically (and therefore historically) narcissism, hierarchies and the Machine State belong to the Terrible Father.

I'll use the modern example of Darth Vader, who is these days the best-known Terrible Father. Vader was pretty much a psychopath - he murdered billions, and sometimes for insignificant reasons. He was into very strict hierarchies - the Emperor on top, him right underneath, and everyone else in the galaxy beneath him and worthy of torture and death if they annoyed him. He was also more machine than man.

The mythologist Joseph Campbell referred to Vader, quite correctly, as a "bureaucrat." He wrote this about him: "Darth Vader has not developed his own humanity. He's a robot. He's a bureaucrat, living not in terms of himself but in terms of an imposed system. This is the threat to our lives that we all face today. Is the system going to flatten you out and deny you your humanity, or are you going to be able to make use of the system to the attainment of human purposes? How do you relate to the system so that you are not compulsively serving it?"

Notice he said that Vader was a bureaucrat, a machine, a robot - far less than a man. In literature this theme is called the Machine State. In the Machine State people are cogs and do not have to think. They have memorized other people's ideas and try to imitate them, just as those in the Manosphere memorize ideas and try to imitate others.

The opposite of the Machine State is the Natural State. That's when you start to see patriarchs such as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda and societies such as that of the Ewoks. They are societies that try to free themselves from narcissism, from strict hierarchies, from people being unthinking cogs in the Machine.

Those who believe in the Machine do so because it gives them purpose, importance and community in their lives, even if ultimately all of them are houses built on sand and will ultimately collapse. They most probably have never known the qualities of the Natural State: patriarchs/mentors, liberty, justice, bravery, prudence, self-control. (These are the Four Cardinal Virtues, about which Campbell wrote: "The first requirements for a heroic career are the knightly virtues of loyalty, temperance, and courage.")

When the ideas they cling to are criticized they respond with the four defenses: projection, denial, devaluation, rationalization.

So we have three things here: narcissism, hierarchy and the Machine State. When people truly believe in Alphas to Omegas the Dark Triad and the social-sexual hierarchies, they are looking to become a cog in the machine. Because once those concepts get in you head, and you truly believe in them, you'll find it hard to get away from them. Ultimately believers will start to lose their humanity: "What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his True Self?"

Narcissism, hierarchies and the Machine State are not about love. They're about power, and the intoxication that can come from it. They're about power, domination and control. As Carl Jung noticed, "You can have power, or love. You can't have both."

What I am seeing in these Manosphere concepts are initiation rites, ones that come far too late. Initiation rites are supposed to turn boys into men. But is initiating them into the concepts of the Terrible Father - all women are stupid whores, a real man is a narcissist/psychopath - really growing up?

Ideas are supposed to serve us and we are not supposed to become slaves to them, seeing them as the absolute truth. That is pure fanaticism.

Campbell had some things to say about that, too.

"Is the machine going to crush humanity or serve humanity?...[H]umanity comes not from the machine but from the heart. What I see in Star Wars is the same problem that Faust gives us: Mephistopheles, the machine man, can provide us with all the means, and is thus likely to determine the aims of life as well. But of course the characteristic of Faust, which makes him eligible to be saved, is that he seeks aims that are not those of the machine."

"Saruman, the evil wizard that enforces a machine-like order in his kingdom that eats all surrounding life, is another Terrible Father...[he] represents all those systems of knowledge that have become so rigid that they refuse to accept any deviance from the norm." - Vagrants Among Us

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