Devotion




We need something beyond us to force our hand when our will inevitably falters; to give us strength in our inescapable moments of weakness.

Without a higher power - that is, a compelling influence that stands outside of us - we must rely on ourselves. We become entirely reliant on our own capacities, our own willpower. In some, or even most, cases this may be sufficient. But when our back is against the wall our will may falter, and with no outside strength to draw on, we may well give in to our essential fragility, in all its many forms: boredom, fear, desire.





I won't run away no more, I promise
Even when I get bored, I promise
Even when you lock me out, I promise
I say my prayers every night, I promise

Even when the ship is wrecked, I promise
Tie me to the rotten deck, I promise

[Radiohead]
'I Promise'





The two fundamental elements of psychotherapy are: let’s find what you’re afraid of and avoiding, and help you confront it, so that you can gather the information that’s there; and let’s allow you to lay your story out, in all of its catastrophe and detail, so that you can straighten yourself out through speech.

[That’s] exactly what happens in psychotherapy, and it should happen in every real relationship. It's the spiritual purpose of a marriage, fundamentally: you face someone who’s different from you, that you’re tied to and cannot run from.

That’s actually why people get married you know […] because this is built into marital vows: ‘I’m not leaving, ever, no matter what.’ [And] that definitely puts a boundary around our arguments, because I can’t say, every time you manifest one of your flaws, which you’re likely to do just as often as me, ‘well enough of this.’ That’s horrible, if your whole life is ‘well, every time you get out of line, I’m out of here.’ First of all you’re not going to admit to ever doing anything wrong; second, you’re going to be like a scared cat the entire relationship, because, well who knows, it could just come to an end at any moment. People say that if the possibility of divorce is open, it makes you free - [but is] that what you want, you want to be free? So you can’t predict anything, that’s what you're after?

It's a critical part of marriage, because if you can run from someone, they will never show you their true face. Because if someone shows you their true face, you will run. And so you say, in a marriage ceremony, ‘I will allow you to show me your true face, and I will not run.

And unless you mean that, you’ll never be married, you’ll never understand what it means. And you’ll never reap the benefits of it, which are practical, obviously, but also spiritual and psychological.

It's a vow, and it says ‘l know that you’re trouble - me too. So we won’t leave, no matter what happens.’ Well, that’s a hell of a vow, but that’s why you take it in front of a bunch of people, that's why it's supposed to be a sacred act.

[...] it has to be a vow, because otherwise you have a back door open; and you’ll never really tell the other person what you’re like. And no wonder, because, really, who wants to know what you’re like! Not even you!

It's a form of voluntary enslavement I suppose, but it's also equivalent to the adoption of a responsibility.

And there’s more to it than that: if you can’t run away, then you can solve your problems - ‘I’m stuck with you, so how about we fix things; because the alternative is that we’re going to be in a boxing match for the next forty years.’ You think you’re going to fix problems without something like that hanging over your head? […] You think you’re going to do that unless there’s a good reason? […] There isn’t a chance, you’ll just avoid them because that’s what people do. It's really hard to solve problems, especially in a relationship.

‘We have to sort this out otherwise we’re going to be carrying it around for the next forty years’ - that, maybe, is enough motivation so you’ll actually try hard to solve a problem. It's a lot easier to say, ‘sorry, we’re not going there.’

What’s the alternative? Everything is mutable and changeable at any moment. Well, go ahead and live your life like that and see what you’re like when you’re fifty. It's dismal. Two or three divorces, your family’s fragmented, you’ve got no continuity of narrative … and it's not good for the kids, not by any stretch of the imagination.

[Jordan Peterson]
'Strengthen the Individual: Q & A Parts I & II' & '2017 Maps of Meaning 6: Story and Metastory (Part 2)'





Anonymous: I share much of this perspective but it concerns me that you would so easily desert the 'black flagship'. Earlier you remarked that you lack the time or inclination for hacking the infrastructure and it occurs to me that perhaps this is a problem in relation to the 'creative class', specifically here in this city.

The international artists, musicians, writers et al, that choose to live here, enjoying Berlin's relatively cheap rents, liberalism and cultural diversity (and I count myself amongst this group) can easily exist in a bubble, indifferent to local concerns and politics and contributing little. Don't like the neighborhood, city, country? - Move.

There is never any need to take responsibility for the consequences of gentrification by culture - just keep one step ahead, so long as the rent is cheap. After all, the city, society, the world, exist for no other purpose than to facilitate our needs, provide a backdrop for our fabulous creativity - and isn't it great that everyone speaks English as well?

krskrft: As long as these people are paying for whatever they require from the culture (food, housing, etc), I don't see the big problem with it. After all, it could be investment bankers filling their places. I would agree that sometimes a creative culture can begin to border on (or wholly become) obnoxious, touristic, and cancerous to the culture at large, but as long as that's not the case, I don't see why it should be treated as an evil.

imomus: We are the new Jews, and when we're not in our creative ghettos -- which resemble each other wherever they are, with their (synagogues) synth gigs and colourful markets -- we're wandering. No, we're not rooted in blood and soil. Yes, we do usually add economic value, even if it's not always guaranteed to make us popular.

Anonymous: Is this not a false and self-serving dichotomy between nomadism and 'heimat'? I don't think the fetishisation of authenticity is an exclusive property of place - nomads also have strong traditions of self definition, inclusion and exclusion. To to be rooted 'in blood and soil' is patently undesirable but the question here relates more to the opposite pole, 'rootlessness'. My question is, WHO benefits from the value we add?

imomus: Well, essentially there's a "town and gown" division in Berlin between people excited by Knut the polar bear and people excited by the Art Biennale. There was a town and gown split in Aberdeen when I was a student, and there's basically the same split now I'm an expat artist here in Berlin. It's something I'm used to, and I think attacking it does invoke criticism of "rootless cosmopolitans".

That phrase is a euphemism for "Jews" dreamed up by Stalin when he thought his Jewish doctors were trying to poison him, by the way. Stalin didn't want to evoke Hitler's anti-semitism, so he came up with "rootless cosmopolitans". I won't say the creative class add as much value as doctors and lawyers and all the other things Jews have tended to become, but we may possibly be ministering to your spiritual health. We're certainly not trying to poison you, anyway.

Anonymous: It's this division that I am skeptical about, just who are the 'them', who the 'us'? I would think that at the very least these two sets intersect, if not exhibit co-dependency. In the interests of disclosure (livejournal won't recognise my ID for some reason) I could also be regarded as a member of the 'creative class' (though strangely this term makes me itch in much the same way as 'hipster' does you). When it comes to 'spiritual health' both the Knut fans and the Biennale audience have contributions to make - though when it comes to culture I'll take my poison neat.

Dialogue taken from Click Opera.




Start building your lifeboats where you are now. I can see that the lessons I have learned here are important whether you are thinking of moving from city to countryside, state to state, or nation to nation.

Whatever shortcomings you may think exist where you live are far outnumbered by the advantages you have where you are a part of an existing ecosystem that you know and which knows you. 

If the time comes when it is necessary to leave that community you will be better off moving with your tribe rather than moving alone.

[Mike Ruppert] 




Nationalism, in the broadest sense of the term, was the default worldview of most people at most times, especially in more traditional places. It was a community-focused attitude, in which a nation, tribe or ethnic group was seen as a thing of value to be loved and protected.

Globalism, the ideology of the rising urban bourgeoisie, was more individualistic. It valued diversity and change, prioritised rights over obligations and saw the world as a whole, rather than particular parts of it, as the moral community to which we all belong.

['Nationalism'] is really a new name for a much older impulse: the need to belong. Specifically, the need to belong to a place in which you can feel at home. The fact that this impulse can be exploited by demagogues doesn’t mean that the impulse itself is wrong.

If I had to offer up just one thing I have learned from my years of environmental campaigning, it would be this: any attempt to protect nature from the worst human depredation has to speak to people where they are. It has to make us all feel that the natural world, the non-human realm, is not an obstacle in the way of our progress but a part of our community that we should nurture; a part of our birthright. In other words, we need to tie our ecological identity in with our cultural identity.

In the age of drones and robots, this notion might sound airy or even ridiculous, but it has been the default way of seeing for most indigenous cultures throughout history. In the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline, recently given the go-ahead by Trump, where the Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of supporters continue to resist the construction of an oil pipeline across Native American land, we perhaps see some indication of what this fusing of human and non-human belonging could look like today; a defence of both territory and culture, in the name of nature, rooted in love.

Like the fox in the garden or the bird in the tree, we are all animals in a place. If we have a future, cultural or ecological – and they are the same thing, in the end – it will begin with a quality of attention and a defence of loved things. All else is for the birds, and the foxes too.

[Paul Kingsnorth]
'The lie of the land: does environmentalism have a future in the age of Trump?'




Whether that which now distinguishes the European be called ‘civilization' or 'humanization' or 'progress'; whether one calls it simply, without implying any praise or blame, the democratic movement in Europe:

behind all the moral and political foregrounds indicated by such formulas a great physiological process is taking place and gathering greater and ever greater impetus - the process of the assimilation of all Europeans, their growing detachment from the conditions under which races dependent on climate and class originate, their increasing independence of any definite milieu which, through making the same demands for centuries, would like to inscribe itself on soul and body - that is to say, the slow emergence of an essentially supra-national and nomadic type of man which, physiologically speaking, possesses as its typical distinction a maximum of the art and power of adaptation.

This process of the becoming European, the tempo of which can be retarded by great relapses but which will perhaps precisely through them gain in vehemence and depth - the still-raging storm and stress of ‘national feeling' belongs here [...] -: this process will probably lead to results which its na├»ve propagators and panegyrists, the apostles of 'modern ideas', would be least inclined to anticipate. 

The same novel conditions which will on average create a levelling and mediocritizing of man - a useful, industrious, highly serviceable and able herd-animal man - are adapted in the highest degree to giving rise to exceptional men of the most dangerous and enticing quality. 

[...] while the total impression produced by such future Europeans will probably be that of multifarious, garrulous, weak-willed and highly employable workers who need a master, a commander, as they need their daily bread; while, therefore, the democratization of Europe will lead to the production of a type prepared for slavery in the subtlest sense: in individual and exceptional cases the strong man will be found to turn out stronger and richer than has perhaps ever happened before - thanks to the unprejudiced nature of his schooling, thanks to the tremendous multiplicity of practice, art and mask. 

What I mean to say is that the democratisation of Europe is at the same time an involuntary arrangement for the breeding of tyrants - in every sense of that word, including the most spiritual.

[Friedrich Nietzsche]
Beyond Good and Evil, 242